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Ebli v. State, Department of Corrections

Supreme Court of Alaska

November 1, 2019

Keilan EBLI, Appellant,
v.
State of Alaska, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Appellee.

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          Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Palmer, Kari Kristiansen, Judge. Superior Court No. 3PA-16-01708 CI

          Keilan Ebli, pro se, Wasilla, Appellant.

         Mary B. Pinkel, Assistant Attorney General, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

         Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Stowers, Maassen, and Carney, Justices. [Winfree, Justice, not participating.]

          OPINION

         MAASSEN, Justice.

          I. INTRODUCTION

          When the Department of Corrections (DOC) discovered that one of its contract employees, a substance abuse counselor, was in an "intimate relationship" with a prisoner in violation of prison policy, DOC barred the counselor and her parents from visiting the prisoner or putting money in his prison bank account. The prisoner sued DOC, alleging that these restrictions violated his constitutional and statutory rights to rehabilitation.

          When the prisoner moved for summary judgment, DOC moved to amend its answer to deny the statutory claim it had failed to deny in its original answer. The prisoner then moved to amend his complaint to add a claim asserting the constitutional rights of the counselor and her parents. The superior court granted DOC’s motion to amend, denied the prisoner’s motion to amend as futile, and granted summary judgment in DOC’s favor. The prisoner appeals.

          We conclude that DOC’s visitation restrictions are reasonable exercises of its authority to address legitimate penological interests and therefore do not violate the prisoner’s constitutional or statutory rights to rehabilitation. We also conclude that the superior court did not abuse its discretion when it granted DOC’s motion to amend its answer and denied the prisoner’s motion to amend his complaint. For these reasons we affirm the judgment of the superior court.

          II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

          A. Facts

          Keilan Ebli is a prisoner at Goose Creek Correctional Center (Goose Creek). There he met Kerri Pittman, a substance abuse counselor employed by a private company but working as a DOC contract employee. Ebli and Pittman developed what DOC later concluded was an "intimate relationship." Ebli characterizes the relationship as a "non-sexual" "friendship," but DOC submitted affidavits on summary judgment that painted a different picture. A DOC employee attested to finding photo albums in Ebli’s cell that included photos of Ebli and Pittman kissing and "displaying wedding rings within a secure ...


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