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Williams v. Blackmon

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

February 9, 2018

JEREMY WILLIAMS PETITIONER
v.
B.E. BLACKMON, WARDEN RESPONDENT

          ORDER

          DANIEL P. JORDAN III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Jeremy Williams is a federal inmate who was formerly incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City, Mississippi (“FCC-Yazoo”). He brought this 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding in which he was found guilty and sanctioned with a loss of good-conduct time. Williams moved for judgment [12], and United States Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball entered a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [14], in which he recommended that three days of Williams's good-conduct time be restored but that all other relief be denied. The Court finds that the R&R should be adopted but will address the specific issues Williams raised in his Objection [17].[1]

         I. Background

         An FCC-Yazoo officer found $150.00 in Williams's boot, leading a Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”) to find that Williams violated section 303 of the Bureau of Prisons' Inmate Discipline Program, which prohibits possession of currency. The DHO sanctioned Williams to forfeiture of 30 days of good-conduct time, a 13-day disallowance of good-conduct credit available for the year, 30 days of disciplinary segregation, a monetary fine of $100, and loss of telephone and visitation privileges for 18 months.

         In his § 2241 petition, Williams essentially claimed that prison officials violated his rights in various ways related to the investigation and prosecution of the charged offense and that the DHO's sanction violated both the applicable regulations and Bureau of Prisons' Program Statement. Judge Ball rejected most of that in his R&R, but he did recommend that the Court restore three days of forfeited good-conduct time.

         Williams filed an Objection [17] to the R&R, making three arguments. First, Williams says that because he did not commit more than one moderate-level offense, the DHO could not impose a sanction under 28 C.F.R. § 541.3, Table 1, specifically the loss of good-conduct time. Second, he argues that the DHO failed to consider mitigating factors in his case that would have permitted a lesser sanction. Finally, he contends that the DHO incorrectly found that the offense was highly aggravated. These issues are now ripe for review, and the Court has jurisdiction to consider them.[2]

         II. Analysis

         To begin, Williams made no objection to Judge Ball's finding that “some evidence” supports the DHO's ruling that Williams committed the offense. See R&R [14] at 4-5 (quoting Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445 (1985) (establishing standard of review for prison disciplinary rulings)). And Respondent did not object to the finding that three days of good-conduct time should be restored. Those recommendations are adopted as unopposed.

         Turning to Williams's objections regarding the lost time, sanctions for inmate disciplinary infractions are found in two sources: 28 C.F.R. § 541.3 and the Bureau of Prisons' Program Statement 5270.09 (2011). Both offer various penalties based on the severity of the violation, and they share the same introductory language:

(a) Prohibited acts. The list of prohibited acts are divided into four separate categories based on severity: Greatest; High; Moderate; and Low. We describe the prohibited acts in Table 1 - Prohibited Acts and Available Sanctions . . . .
(b) Available sanctions. The list of available sanctions for committing prohibited acts is listed in Table 1 - Prohibited Acts and Available Sanctions.

28 C.F.R. § 541.3(a)-(b); Program Statement 5270.09, section 541.3.

         Here, the DHO found that Williams violated section 303 of the Inmate Discipline Program, which is considered a “Moderate Severity Level Prohibited Act[ ].” 28 C.F.R. § 541.3, Table 1. And section 541.3(b)(3) of the Program Statement provides the available sanctions for such acts:

Moderate Severity Level Offenses. The DHO imposes at least one sanction A through M [from Table 1], . . . . Sanction B.1 ordinarily must be imposed for a . . . PLRA inmate [i.e., an inmate sentenced for an offense committed on or after ...

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