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Frazier v. Stewart

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

June 12, 2018

JAMES CALVIN FRAZIER, # 177281, Petitioner,
v.
CYNTHIA STEWART, et al., Respondents.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         James Calvin Frazier (“Frazier”), an Alabama inmate, filed this construed petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Doc. No. 1.[1] In 2002, Frazier was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment following his manslaughter conviction in the Chilton County Circuit Court. That sentence was split to four years, after which Frazier would serve five years' probation. After serving the split portion of his sentence, Frazier was released to probation; however, his probation was later revoked, and he was ordered to serve the remainder of his 20-year sentence. In his § 2254 petition, Frazier claims that the Alabama Department of Corrections' (“ADOC”) is improperly denying him eligibility for correctional incentive time during the remainder of his sentence.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Frazier contends that he was sentenced under Alabama's Split Sentence Act, Ala. Code 1975 § 15-18-8 (“the Act”), and that § 15-18-8(g) of the Act provides that he should receive correctional incentive time on the remaining part of his 20-year sentence. He argues that § 15-18-8(g) conflicts with Ala. Code 1975 § 14-9-41(e), part of the Alabama Correctional Incentive Time Act (“ACITA”). According to Frazier, § 15-18-8(g) governs because, where a conflict exists between statutes, the latest expression of the legislature is the law. Frazier maintains that § 15-18-8(g) is the latest expression of the legislature and that the language in the last part of § 15-18-8(g) (highlighted below) entitles him to receive correctional incentive time during the remainder of his sentence.

         Section 15-18-8(g) states:

No defendant serving a minimum period of confinement ordered under the provisions of subsection (a) shall be entitled to parole or to deductions from his or her sentence under the Alabama Correctional Incentive Time Act, during the minimum period of confinement so ordered; provided, however, that this subsection shall not be construed to prohibit application of the Alabama Correctional Incentive Time Act to any period of confinement which may be required after the defendant has served such minimum period.

Ala. Code 1975 § 15-18-8(g) (emphasis added).

         Section 14-9-41(e) states:

[N]o person may receive the benefits of correctional incentive time if he or she has been convicted of a Class A felony or has been sentenced to life, or death, or who has received a sentence for more than 15 years in the state penitentiary or in the county jail at hard labor or in any municipal jail. No. person may receive the benefits of correctional incentive time if he or she has been convicted of a criminal sex offense involving a child as defined in Section 15-20-21(5).

Ala. Code 1975 § 14-9-41(e) (emphasis added).

         Frazier has misinterpreted the above statutes. Section 15-18-8(g) states that a defendant may not earn correctional incentive time while serving the split portion of his sentence, but clarifies that a defendant may earn correctional incentive time during any period of confinement after the split portion has been served. Section 15-18-8(g) does not mandate that a defendant earn correctional incentive time after serving the split portion of his sentence; rather, it provides for eligibility to the extent authorized by other law. Section 14-9-41(e)-other law-prohibits Frazier from receiving correctional incentive time altogether, because he received a sentence of more than 15 years. Section § 15-18-8(g) does not conflict with § 14-9-41(e), and the two statutes may work together without contradicting each other's terms. Thus, Frazier's claim is without merit; the ADOC correctly denied him eligibility for correctional incentive time during the remainder of his sentence; and the state courts correctly denied his challenge to the ADOC's decision.

         Moreover, even an Alabama inmate eligible for correctional incentive time deductions has no constitutional right or entitlement to receive these deductions from the term of his sentence, nor is any such right created by state law, as granting such deductions under Alabama Code § 14-9-41 is discretionary. See Conlogue v. Shinbaum, 949 F.2d 378, 380-81 (11th Cir. 1991); Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995). Although § 14-9-41 contains language delineating which inmates are eligible to receive correctional incentive time-language that bars Frazier from eligibility-the statute does not create an interest in receiving correctional incentive time upon meeting the eligibility criteria, nor does it contain any explicit mandatory language that restricts the discretion of persons charged with deciding whether an inmate should be granted these time deductions. While the eligibility criteria are prerequisites, the statute does not establish a right to receive incentive time deductions even if the criteria are met. Thus, the failure to grant correctional incentive time to an inmate does not alter or extinguish a protected right or status and therefore does not deprive inmates of any protected liberty interest. Consequently, Frazier's arguments regarding an unconstitutional denial of correctional incentive time are indisputably meritless, as they allege “infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not exist.” Robinson v. Deloach, 2009 WL 1116838, at *5 (M.D. Ala. 2009) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)).

         III. ...


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