White supremacist's challenge to the conditions of his solitary confinement is moot, rules the Tenth Circuit

Ind v. Colo. Dep’t of Corr., No. 14-1168 (10th Cir. Sept. 11, 2015).

Pictured here is the deputy warden’s house, just outside the walls of the Colorado State Penitentiary. The Colorado State Penitentiary is located in rural Fremont County, along with 14 other prisons—including ADX Florence, the only federal Supermax prison. (credit: flickr / Jeffrey Beall)

Pictured here is the deputy warden’s house, just outside the walls of the Colorado State Penitentiary. The Colorado State Penitentiary is located in rural Fremont County, along with 14 other prisonsincluding ADX Florence, the only federal Supermax prison. (credit: flickr / Jeffrey Beall)

Jacob Ind was a prisoner at the Colorado State Penitentiary until 2011, when he was transferred to another Colorado state prison. While at the state pen, Ind was locked up in solitary confinement for eight years—from 1995 to 2003. He was put in solitary again in 2007 for trying to incite a riot, and stayed there for two years. 

Meanwhile, Ind filed a complaint in federal court, alleging that solitary confinement interfered with his religion, Christian Separatism. (The Tenth Circuit helpfully informs us that Christian Separatism is a branch of Christian Identity, which has a white supremacist theology.) In particular, he challenged prison’s policy of allowing him only two books in his cell at a time. After a bench trial, the district court concluded that this two-book policy violated RLUIPA, a federal statute that protects inmates’ religious liberties. 

The state appealed this decision, but on appeal, the Tenth Circuit concludes that the case is moot. The state released Ind from solitary confinement in 2009, and he hasn’t returned since. There’s no indication that the state did this as a ploy to escape litigation. So the case is remanded with directions to dismiss it as moot.