Murphy v. Raoul

Decision Date31 March 2019
Docket NumberNo. 16 C 11471,16 C 11471
Citation380 F.Supp.3d 731
Parties Paul MURPHY et al., Plaintiffs, v. Kwame RAOUL et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

Adele D. Nicholas, Law Office of Adele D. Nicholas, Mark G. Weinberg, Attorney at Law, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiffs.

Thomas A. Ioppolo, Sarah Hughes Newman, Illinois Attorney General's Office, Chicago, IL, for Defendants.


Virginia M. Kendall, United States District Judge

Paul Murphy is indigent and homeless. He was convicted of possession of child pornography in 2012 and received a sentence of three years' probation. Five years after his release date, and nearly twice the number of years of his sentence, he remains incarcerated because the Department of Corrections cannot find an appropriate place for him live.

Illinois, like many states, requires sentencing courts to follow a term of imprisonment with a term of mandatory supervised release. Supervised release is a form of post-confinement monitoring intended to assist individuals in their transition from prison to liberty. Most supervised release terms are determinate, but some—including those that apply to several sex offenses—are indeterminate, meaning they range from three years to natural life. The clock on these terms does not start ticking until sex offenders are out of prison, but some never make it that far because they are indigent and the State demands that they first secure a qualifying host site before it will release them. Many offenders successfully complete their entire court-ordered terms of incarceration yet remain detained indefinitely because they are unable find a residence due to indigence and lack of support.

The question presented is whether this practice violates the Constitution. The plaintiffs are a class comprising the affected sex offenders and the defendants are the Attorney General of Illinois and the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Both parties moved for summary judgment. (Dkts. 75, 88.) The Court now grants the plaintiffs' motion (Dkt. 75) in part, denies it in part, and denies the defendants' cross-motion in full (Dkt. 88). At the very heart of the liberty secured by the separation of powers is freedom from indefinite imprisonment by executive decree. The Attorney General and Director’s current application of the host site requirement results in the continued deprivation of the plaintiffs' fundamental rights and therefore contravenes the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.


In Illinois, almost every criminal sentence includes a mandatory supervised release ("MSR") term that follows the term of imprisonment. See 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-15(c). Most MSR terms are determinate, meaning the Legislature sets a finite number of years for the offender to serve. Some terms, however—including those that attach to certain sex offenses—are indeterminate, "rang[ing] from a minimum of 3 years to a maximum of natural life." Id. 5/5-8-1(d)(4). In those cases, sentencing courts must impose an indeterminate term of three years to natural life. See People v. Rinehart , 2012 IL 111719, ¶¶ 29–30, 356 Ill.Dec. 759, 962 N.E.2d 444.

Statutory Scheme

The Illinois Legislature vested both the Prisoner Review Board (PRB) and the Department of Corrections (IDOC) with authority over MSR. See Cordrey v. Prisoner Review Bd. , 2014 IL 117155, ¶ 20, 386 Ill.Dec. 660, 21 N.E.3d 423. The Supreme Court of Illinois explained the relationship between the PRB and the IDOC in Cordrey :

The Prisoner Review Board is independent of the Department of Corrections. 730 ILCS 5/3–3–1(a) (West 2012). The Prisoner Review Board is "the authority for setting conditions for parole, mandatory supervised release under Section 5–8–1(a) of this [Unified] Code [of Corrections], and determining whether a violation of those conditions warrant revocation of parole or mandatory supervised release or the imposition of other sanctions." 730 ILCS 5/3–3–1(a)(5) (West 2012).
¶ 21 The Prisoner Review Board has wide discretion in setting the conditions of MSR. "The conditions of parole or mandatory supervised release shall be such as the Prisoner Review Board deems necessary to assist the subject in leading a law-abiding life." 730 ILCS 5/3–3–7(a) (West 2012). Although the Prisoner Review Board has wide discretion, the legislature has mandated that certain sex offenders are required to wear an approved electronic monitoring device. 730 ILCS 5/3–3–7(a)(7.7) (West 2012).
¶ 22 While the Prisoner Review Board is the authority for setting conditions for MSR and determining whether a violation of those conditions warrants revocation of MSR, the Department of Corrections retains custody of all persons placed on parole or MSR. See 730 ILCS 5/3–14–2(a) (West 2012). The Department of Corrections "shall supervise such persons during their parole or release period in accord with the conditions set by the Prisoner Review Board. * * * Such conditions may include that the person use an approved electronic monitoring device * * *." 730 ILCS 5/3–14–2(a) (West 2012). Included within the Department’s custody are "all sex offenders placed on mandatory supervised release." 730 ILCS 5/3–14–2.5(a) (West 2012). The legislature has directed that the Department of Corrections "shall assign personnel to assist persons eligible for parole in preparing a parole plan. Such Department personnel shall make a report of their efforts and findings to the Prisoner Review Board prior to its consideration of the case of such eligible person." 730 ILCS 5/3–14–2(b) (West 2012).
¶ 23 A parolee or releasee’s supervising officer "shall report violations to the Prisoner Review Board and shall have the full power of peace officers in the arrest and retaking of any parolees or releasees or the officer may request the Department to issue a warrant for the arrest of any parolee or releasee who has allegedly violated his parole or release conditions." 730 ILCS 5/3–14–2(c) (West 2012). The Code provides that, "[t]o assist parolees or releasees, the Department shall provide employment counseling and job placement services, and may in addition to other services provide the following: (1) assistance in residential placement." (Emphasis added.) 730 ILCS 5/3–14–3(1) (West 2012).

2014 IL 117155, ¶¶ 20–23, 386 Ill.Dec. 660, 21 N.E.3d 423. So, the PRB sets the conditions for an inmate’s MSR, but the Legislature directed the IDOC to assist inmates with finding a suitable "host site" for residential placement. See id. ¶ 24.

Even if the PRB approves an individual for MSR, the IDOC will not extricate that person unless and until he or she satisfies certain conditions, most importantly securing a qualifying host site to reside at while on MSR. (Dkt. 91 ¶ 2.) The IDOC exercises the sole power to approve or deny an inmate’s proposed host site based on a variety of statutes and regulations that restrict where sex offenders may live while on MSR. Id. ¶¶ 3–5. Ultimately, a parole agent must okay the placement. Id. ¶ 4.

In the case of a someone who is labeled a sex offender, a variety of other statutes and rules also kick in to restrict where and how that individual may reside. These include registration laws and regulations that prohibit sex offenders from living a certain number of feet from schools, parks, and day care centers, as examples. The only time a person can apply for the termination of his or her indeterminate MSR term is after successfully serving three years of that term outside of prison. Id. ¶ 5. Taken together, what all this means is that someone who the PRB approves for release after serving his or her entire term of imprisonment will remain indefinitely confined if the individual is unable to identify a host site that passes muster. Id.

Host Site Review

No more than six months before release, an inmate may propose a host site by giving an address to the field services representative or counselor at the facility who then enters that information into a database. (Dkt. 107 ¶ 1.) Next, the database routes the proposed host site to the appropriate district, where the parole commander verifies the receiving district is correct and that the MSR date of entry is no more than six months away. Id. ¶ 2. If those things check out, the commander assigns the host site to a parole agent. Id. The assigned agent begins the host site investigation by checking the Department’s mapping software for day care centers and schools within 500 feet of the address. Id. ¶ 3. If none appear, the agent turns to Google Earth to check for playgrounds, parks, and other facilities providing programs exclusively for minors. Id. If any such grounds come up in the search, the agent will generally deny the site. Id.

Moving forward, the agent calls the local registering agency, usually the police department, to verify that it will register an offender at the specified address because state law requires it. Id. ¶ 4. The police department, in fact, has the authority to arrest and return to IDOC custody a sex offender who violates any of the residency restriction statutes. Id. Thus, if the local police department states that it will not register the offender at that address, the IDOC agent will deny the host site. Id.

Following the call with the police department, the parole agent visits the proposed host site. Id. ¶ 5. During this visit, the agent looks for day care centers or playgrounds that he or she perhaps missed on the map. Id. The agent will also meet with the host, if any, to ensure that he or she is indeed willing to have the offender reside there and understands all the rules. Id. ¶ 6. Additionally, the agent will determine who else resides in the house and confirm that any co-owners or co-leaseholders agreed to the offender living there. Id. The agent’s overarching aim and objective is to ensure that the home will be a good environment, meaning financially and emotionally supportive, physically safe, and...

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