The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Toevs v. Reid on Monday, June 20, 2011.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision, though on different grounds. Petitioner was placed in the Colorado prison system’s Quality of Life Level Program. The program consists of six levels, each successively allowing more privileges as the inmate works through the system with good behavior. Petitioner claimed that his placement in the program deprived him of a liberty interest without due process; specifically, he alleges that his case managers “denied him his right to a meaningful periodic review of his confinement in administrative segregation because the reviews they gave him were perfunctory, meaningless, and all said the same thing.”
The Court disagreed with Petitioner’s contentions but agreed that Petitioner’s indefinite placement in such administrative segregation that lasted for years, in the type of conditions he alleged, established a protected liberty interest. However, this liberty interest was not deprived. Meaningful review need not be a review that could result in his immediate release from the program back into the general prison population. “A ‘meaningful’ review is one that evaluates the prisoner’s current circumstances and future prospects, and, considering the reason(s) for his confinement to segregation, determines, without preconception, whether that placement remains warranted”; this type of review is consistent with those provided by Petitioner’s case managers. Ultimately, “because the standards for meaningful periodic reviews during extended placement in a stratified incentive program involving confinement to administrative segregation were not previously clearly established in this circuit,” Respondents are entitled to qualified immunity.