Judge Shira Scheindlin
State inmate Peoples was placed in Special Housing Unit (SHU) solitary confinement after a cell search revealed contraband papers. After a disciplinary hearing on his non-violent rules breach, Peoples was sentenced to three years of SHU confinement. The court’s May 3 ruling partly dismissed his complaint asserting the Eighth Amendment’s breach. Partly denying reconsideration, the court held defendants Bezio and Rock—the SHU’s directors—not entitled to qualified immunity. Noting that Peoples served 26 months of a 36-month SHU confinement sentence, the court observed that a sentence of either duration could be viewed “atypical and significant” in deciding an inmate’s liberty interest for due process purposes under Sandin v. Conner. Noting repeated holdings that segregated confinement is unconstitutional if certain standards are not met, district court concluded that prison officials were arguably on notice that a sentence of three years of SHU confinement for a nonviolent infraction of prison rules could be found “grossly disproportionate” and thus a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Accordingly Bezio’s and Rock’s conduct could be found to have violated Peoples’ right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.