July 7, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY & CORRECTIONS
Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court. In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana. No. C-613273,
Sec. 22 The Honorable Timothy Kelley, Judge Presiding.
Williams, Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana,
Plaintiff/Appellant, In Proper Person.
L. Cannon, Legal Programs Department, Louisiana State
Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana, Attorney for Appellee, James
GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND DRAKE, J. Guidry, J. concur in the
0643 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] DRAKE, J.
Clarence Williams, an inmate housed at the Louisiana State
Penitentiary (" LSP" ), appeals a district court
dismissing his petition for judicial review of a grievance he
filed with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and
Corrections (" DPSC" ) pursuant to the Corrections
Administrative Remedy Procedure (" CARP" ), La.
R.S. 15:1171, et seq. For the reasons that follow,
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Williams had submitted a visiting request to the LSP, seeking
to have his adult daughter, C. Bennett, added to his approved
list of visitors. On May 12, 2009, the LSP denied the request
of Mr. Williams. The LSP gave as its reason for the denial
that on the visiting questionnaire, C. Bennett indicated that
a family member had been a victim of a crime committed by Mr.
Williams, and as such she, C. Bennett, would not be added to
his approved Visiting List.
on October 10, 2011, Mr. Williams filed administrative remedy
procedure (" ARP" ) LSP-2011-2724, wherein he
complained that the DPSC denied his request to add his adult
daughter, C. Bennett, to his approved list of visitors. Mr.
Williams alleged that his daughter was denied visitation with
him at the LSP on May 7, 2009, pursuant to DPSC Regulation
C-02-008, which governs offender visitation.
first step response, the DPSC stated that the change in DPSC
Regulation C-02-008 would not prevent Mr. Williams's
adult daughter C, Bennett from visiting with him; it would
only prevent minors from participating in the visitation
process without special permission from the LSP Warden.
Rather, the DPSC stated that the reason Mr. Williams's
daughter was denied visitation on May [2014 0643 La.App. 1
Cir. 3] 7, 2009, was because she indicated that she or a
family member was a victim, of which decision Mr. Williams
was notified of by the LSP on May 12, 2009. Having denied Mr.
Williams's request to have his daughter added to his
approved visiting list due to possible victim concerns, the
DPSC denied Mr. Williams's request for administrative
remedy. Mr. Williams requested to proceed to the second step
review, wherein the relief he requested was likewise denied
with the explanation, " it was determined that the first
step response provided [was] clear and concise, as well as
[had] addressed your request appropriately."
Mr. Williams filed a petition for judicial review on June 27,
2012, seeking redress for his complaint. In his screening
recommendation, the commissioner assigned to review the
matter held that Mr. Williams had no constitutional or
statutory right to add C. Bennett to his visitor's list.
The commissioner reasoned that the decision of the DPSC was
based on security concerns and that there was no evidence in
the record or basis in the law to show that the decision of
the DPSC was arbitrary, capricious, manifestly erroneous, or
in violation of any of Mr. Williams's statutory or
the commissioner recommended that the decision of the DPSC be
and that Mr. Williams's petition for judicial
review be dismissed with prejudice. In a judgment signed
December 2, 2013, the district court adopted the
recommendation of the commissioner and dismissed Mr.
Williams's petition for judicial review with prejudice,
at his costs, from which judgment Mr. Williams has perfected
the instant appeal.
0643 La.App. 1 Cir. 4] LAW AND DISCUSSION
in 1985, CARP authorized the DPSC to adopt and implement an
administrative remedy procedure for receiving, hearing, and
disposing of any and all inmate complaints and grievances.
La. R.S. 15:1171-72. As provided in CARP, an offender
aggrieved by an adverse decision rendered pursuant to any
administrative remedy procedure can institute proceedings for
judicial review by filing a petition for judicial review in
the Nineteenth Judicial District Court. La. R.S. 15:1177. On
review of the agency's decision, the district court
functions as an appellate court. Its review shall be confined
to the record and shall be limited to the issues presented in
the petition for review and the administrative remedy request
filed at the agency level. La. R.S. 15:1177(A)(5). The court
may affirm the decision of the agency or remand the case for
further proceedings or order that additional evidence be
taken. La. R.S. 15:1177(A)(8). The court may reverse or
modify the administrative decision only if substantial rights
of the appellant have been prejudiced because the
administrative findings, inferences, conclusions, or
decisions are: (1) in violation of constitutional or
statutory provisions, (2) in excess of the statutory
authority of the agency, (3) made upon unlawful procedure,
(4) affected by other error of law, (5) arbitrary or
capricious or characterized by-abuse of discretion or clearly
unwarranted exercise of discretion, or (6) manifestly
erroneous in view of the reliable, probative and substantial
evidence on the whole record. La. R.S. 15:1177(A)(9);
Edwards v. Bunch, 07-1421 (La.App. 1 Cir. 3/26/08),
985 So.2d 149, 152.
review of the district court's judgment in a suit for
judicial review under La. R.S. 15:1177, no deference is owed
by the court of appeal to the factual findings or legal
conclusions of the district court, just as no deference is
owed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to factual findings or
legal conclusions of the court of appeal. Edwards,
985 So.2d at 152.
0643 La.App. 1 Cir. 5] DPSC Regulation C-02-008 and LSP
Directive Number 16.003 govern offender visitation at the
LSP. DPSC Regulation C-02-008 provides that "
[v]isitation is a privilege and not a right." Section
10(C) governs the restrictions on offender visits with
minors, and it provides, in pertinent part:
1) Offenders who have a current or prior conviction for a sex
crime involving a minor child family member, or who have a
documented history of sex abuse with a minor child family
member, are ineligible to visit with any minor child ....
2) Offenders who have a current or prior conviction for a sex
crime involving a minor child who is not a family member are
ineligible to visit with any minor child.
LSP Directive Number 16.003(A)(6)(a) provides that a
potential visitor (adult [or] minor) may be denied if the
potential visitor " is the crime victim or immediate
family member of the crime victim."
DPSC denied Mr. Williams's request to add his adult
daughter C. Bennett to his approved visitor list on May 12,
2009, stating that its denial was based on her visitor
questionnaire response wherein she indicated that her older
sister had been a victim of a crime committed by Mr.
Williams. The DPSC recognized that the
regulation cited by Mr. Williams, DPSC Regulation C-02-008,
only pertains to restrictions on visitation with minors, and
Mr. Williams's daughter is unquestionably an adult. Thus,
in the ARP first step review response, the DPSC stated that
DPSC Regulation C-02-008 would not prevent his adult daughter
from visiting with him; it would only prevent minors from
participating in the visitation process without special
permission from the LSP Warden.
hearing on Mr. Williams's petition for judicial review
before the commissioner, the DPSC argued that although C.
Bennett is not a minor, she was a direct victim of Mr.
Williams's sexual crime of the forcible rape of her
stepsister, who was a minor at the time the crime occurred.
The DPSC alleged that C. Bennett was in the household at the
time of the commission of the crime of which [2014 0643
La.App. 1 Cir. 6] her stepsister was a victim, and C. Bennett
identified herself as being a close relative to the victim.
Based on security concerns for the safety and well-being of a
victim of sexual abuse, the DPSC made the following argument
to the commissioner:
This child of his, while a major, has not contacted us to
refute any refusal of visitation. She hasn't called
Warden Fontenot. If she would open some dialogue with us
about her willingness to see him, there are other avenues for
that. But the fact is she has not done it. The Department has
a mission of public safety. We would rather err on the side
of caution than we would allow somebody in that we don't
know how they are going to react, we don't have any
certainty about what their emotions are, and it's just
because [Mr. Williams] wants us to do that. Visiting is a
privilege. It's not a right. We have correctional
officers up here who exercise a lot of experience and due
diligence in handling these matters, and for that reason,
we'd ask that you affirm the Department's decision in
on the foregoing, we do not find that the DPSC and the
district court erred in denying Mr. Williams's request to
add his adult daughter, C. Bennett, to his approved list of
visitors at the LSP. Visitation is a privilege and not a
right, and as noted by the Commissioner in his report, an
inmate has no constitutional or statutory right to have a
particular visitor added to his visitor list. See McCray
v. Sullivan, 509 F.2d 1332, 1334 (5th Cir. 1975);
Thorne v. Jones, 765 F.2d 1270, 1274 (5th Cir.
1985); Fulford v. Blackburn, 470 So.2d 515, 516
(La.App. 1st Cir. 1985). Based on the discretion afforded the
DPSC in such matters, as well as LSP Directive Number 16.003,
there is no basis for reversal of the decision of the DPSC.
See La R.S. 15:833(A) (which grants the DPSC discretion to
" authorize visits ... under reasonable conditions
between inmates and approved friends, relatives, and other
persons" ); see also Fulford, 470 So.2d 515.
Accordingly, we find no merit in Mr. Williams's appeal
and affirm the rulings of the district court and the DPSC.
0643 La.App. 1 Cir. 7] DECREE
foregoing reasons, we find that the Louisiana Department of
Public Safety and Corrections committed no error in denying
Mr. Williams's request to add his adult daughter, C.
Bennett, to his approved list of visitors at the Louisiana
State Penitentiary, Accordingly, we affirm the December 2,
2013 judgment of the district court. Costs associated with
this appeal are assessed to the plaintiff/appellant, Clarence
Mr, Williams pled guilty to forcible rape
of a minor on October 23, 1985, in the Twenty-Third Judicial
District Court, docket number 1621.
 The office of commissioner of the
Nineteenth Judicial District Court was created by La.
R.S. 13:711 to hear and recommend disposition of criminal and
civil proceedings arising out of the incarceration of state
prisoners. La. R.S. 13:713(A). The district judge " may
accept, reject, or modify in whole or in part the findings or
recommendations made by the commissioner and also may receive
further evidence or recommit the matter to the commissioner
with instructions." La. R.S. 13:713(C)(5); Abbott v.
LeBlanc, 12-1476 (La.App. 1 Cir. 3/25/13), 115 So.3d
504, 505 n.1.