Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court, Parish of East
Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana Trial Court No. C658362 The
Honorable William A. Morvant, Judge Presiding
Rodgers Angie, Louisiana Plaintiff/Appellant, In Proper
William L. Kline Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney for
Defendant/Appellee, Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety and
BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.
Rodgers, an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department
of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC), appeals a district
court judgment dismissing his petition for judicial review of
disciplinary decision RCC-2016-1096 for failing to state a
cause of action. Rodgers, whose criminal history includes a
sexual battery conviction, claims DPSC is improperly
characterizing him as a sex offender and deeming him
ineligible for work release pursuant to a DPSC regulation
providing sex offenders are unsuitable for work
release. A commissioner of the district court
reasoned work release is a privilege, not a constitutional
right or liberty interest, and a determination of work
release eligibility lies exclusively within the discretion of
DPSC. Therefore, the commissioner recommended Rodgers'
suit be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.
SeeLa.R.S. 15:1178, 15:1188, and 15:1177A(9).
may intervene and reverse or modify DPSC's decisions in
disciplinary cases only where the inmate's substantial
rights have been prejudiced. See La. R.S.
15:1177A(9); see alsoLa. R.S. 15:1178B and 1188A.
Louisiana Revised Statute 15:1111, governing the work release
program, pertinently provides:
B. The department shall establish rules for
the administration of the work release program and
shall determine those inmates who may participate in
the release program. Any inmate sentenced to
imprisonment at hard labor shall be eligible
at any time during his sentence to participate in the work
release program, subject to the provisions of this Part. If
any inmate violates the conditions prescribed by the
department, his work release privileges may be withdrawn.
Failure to report to or return from the planned employment
shall be considered an escape under the provisions of R.S.
14:110. The department may approve as work release
privileges, placement in universities, colleges, technical,
vocational or trade schools, or in sheltered workshops or in
training programs designed to improve the skills and
abilities of the inmate.
* * * * *
I. (1) Any inmate who has been convicted of forcible or
second degree rape (R.S. 1442.1), aggravated arson (R.S.
14:51), armed robbery (R.S. 14:64), attempted murder (R.S.
14:27 and 29), or attempted armed robbery (R.S. 14:27 and
64), shall be eligible to participate in a
work release program during the last six months of his term.
Any person sentenced as a habitual offender pursuant to R.S.
15:529.1 shall be eligible to participate in
a work release program during the last year of his term if
the offender has obtained a low-risk level designation
determined by a validated risk assessment instrument approved
by the secretary of the Department of Public Safety and
Corrections. Notwithstanding the provisions of this Section
and unless the inmate is eligible at an earlier date, those
inmates who have served a minimum of fifteen years in the
custody of the department for those crimes enumerated in this
Section shall be eligible to participate in
a work release program during the last twelve months of their
(2) Any inmate convicted of producing, manufacturing,
distributing, or dispensing or possession with intent to
produce, manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled
dangerous substance classified in R.S. 40:964 shall
be eligible to participate in the work release
program if the inmate is otherwise in compliance with the
standards for work release. [Emphasis added.]
Section 15:1111 contains certain inmate eligibility
requirements, inmate participation is specifically
reserved to the discretion of DPSC. See Welch v.
Thompson, 20 F.3d 636, 639-40 (5th Cir. 1994). Under the
statutory framework, eligibility is a predicate to
participation, which is then left solely to DPSC's
discretion. Participation is a privilege and is not
mandated by eligibility. See La. R.S. 15:111 IB, C,
and D; Welch, 20 F.3d at 643. Because the
legislature delegated the authority to determine inmate
participation to DPSC, an inmate has no liberty interest in
Louisiana's work release program. See, e.g., James v.
Hertzog, 415 Fed.Appx. 530, 532 (5th Cir.
2011) (unpublished); Ard v. Leblanc, 404 Fed.Appx.
928, 929 (5th Cir. 2010) (unpublished); Welch, 20
F.3d at 639-40; see also Bulger v. U.S. Bureau of
Prisons, 65 F.3d 48, 49 (5th Cir. 1995) (stating
prisoner classification and eligibility for rehabilitation
programs in federal prisons are not directly subject to due
process protections, and prisoners have no constitutionally
protected liberty or property interests per se in
their prison job assignments).
failed to allege a violation of his substantial rights,
Rodgers has failed to state a cognizable claim or cause of
action. See Wallace v. Louisiana Dept. of Pub. Safety
& Corr., 17-0287 (La.App. 1 Cir. 9/28/17), 232 So.3d
663, 665. The district court's judgment dismissing,
without prejudice and without service, Rodgers' petition
for judicial review is affirmed. This memorandum opinion is
issued in ...