MATTHEW JOSEPH GIVENS A/K/A MATTHEW J. GIVENS APPELLANT
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 07/31/2018
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. JEFF WEILL
SR. TRIAL JUDGE:
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MATTHEW JOSEPH GIVENS (PRO SE)
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
DARRELL CLAYTON BAUGHN
J. WILSON, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND LAWRENCE, JJ.
Matthew Givens was convicted of fondling. On March 11, 2010,
he was sentenced to serve twelve years in prison. Givens
contends that he is eligible for meritorious earned time, a
conditional reduction in a sentence that operates as an
"incentive for offenders to achieve positive and
worthwhile accomplishments for their personal benefit or the
benefit of others." Miss. Code Ann. § 47-5-142
(Rev. 2015). He filed two separate requests for relief
through the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC)
administrative remedy program. The MDOC denied both requests,
stating that Givens was prohibited from receiving meritorious
earned time as a sex offender. Givens then filed a complaint
in the Hinds County Circuit Court, which also found him
ineligible. Because Givens is a sex offender and
statutorily barred from meritorious earned time under
Mississippi Code Annotated section 47-5-139(1)(d) (Rev.
2015), we affirm.
"The Court will not disturb a decision of an
administrative agency, like the Department [of Corrections],
unless the decision is unsupported by substantial evidence,
is arbitrary or capricious, is beyond the agency's scope
or powers, or is a violation of the party's
constitutional rights." Thomas v. Miss. Dep't of
Corr., 248 So.3d 786, 789 (¶8) (Miss. 2018),
reh'g denied (June 14, 2018).
Givens bases his argument on section 47-5-142(1), which
states that "any" offender shall be eligible to
receive meritorious earned time, "subject to the
provisions of this section . . . as distinguished from earned
time for good conduct and performance." He claims he
should receive meritorious earned time since nothing in
section 47-5-142 expressly prohibits him from being eligible.
Mississippi Code Annotated section 47-5-139(1)(d), however,
prohibits Givens from being eligible, stating: "An
inmate shall not be eligible for the earned time allowance if
. . . [t]he inmate was convicted of a sex crime."
"This Court has repeatedly held that, notwithstanding
the broad language in section 47-5-142, eligibility for
meritorious earned time is controlled by section
47-5-139." Mason v. Miss. Dep't of Corr.,
248 So.3d 840, 841 (¶3) (Miss. Ct. App. 2017),
reh'g denied (Apr. 17, 2018), cert.
denied, 247 So.3d 1265 (Miss. 2018); see, e.g.,
Riley v. State, 150 So.3d 138, 140 n.2 (Miss. Ct.
App. 2014); Clark v. Miss. Dep't of
Corr., 148 So.3d 403, 404-05 (¶¶8-9) (Miss.
Ct. App. 2014); Smith v. State, 75 So.3d 82, 83-84
(¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2011); Sykes v. Epps, 963
So.2d 31, 32-33 (¶7) (Miss. Ct. App. 2007); Golden
v. Epps, 958 So.2d 271, 275 (¶8) (Miss. Ct. App.
Because Givens was convicted of a sex crime, he is not
eligible to have his sentence reduced for meritorious earned
time. Therefore, the circuit ...