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Challenge to Nebraska Work Release Fees Dismissed

The plaintiff was placed on work release; he was required to sign a statement acknowledging that room and board would be deducted from his inmate account, and $2,790 was removed from his account.

Due process was not denied. The program was voluntary, and because he agreed (albeit under protest) to pay room and board in order to participate, he did not have a property interest in the money deducted. More importantly, he does not state a due process claim because he does not say he was denied a hearing or other required procedure. His complaint that the deductions are not statutorily authorized is for a state court conversion suit.

The sua sponte screening procedures are not unconstitutional. At 658:
By allowing district courts to dismiss all meritless claims before service of process and without giving leave to amend, the statute reduces the cost of those suits to the judicial system.

Even more importantly, however, because under the PLRA prisoners can file only three frivolous, malicious, or meritless suits at the initially reduced rate, see 28 U.S.C. 1915(g), the provision, by increasing the likelihood that a prisoner's meritless claim will be dismissed, raised the expected cost to the prisoner of each such filing by pushing him or her one step closer to initially having to pay the full filing fee. Thus, because the provision both reduces the burdens on the judicial system and increases the cost to prisoners of filing meritless claims, it is rationally related to the legitimate interest that the statute seeks to further. See: Christiansen v. Clarke, 147 F.3d 655 (8th Cir. 1998).

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Related legal case

Christiansen v. Clarke