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Richardson v. Woods

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

December 10, 2018

THADDEUS RICHARDSON, Reg. No. 32639-034, Petitioner,
WALTER WOODS, Respondent.




         This case is before the court on a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Thaddeus Richardson, a federal inmate confined at the Montgomery Federal Prison Camp. In this petition, Richardson challenges the constitutionality of a disciplinary action imposed upon him for attempted introduction of contraband into a correctional facility in December 2013 during his confinement at FPC Oakdale, Louisiana.[1] Specifically, Richardson alleges that (1) he is not guilty of the charged offense (Doc. 1 at 6); (2) he believes a former Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) agent “used his influence with the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to “set [him] up” and served as a confidential informant in the disciplinary proceedings (Doc. 1 at 7); (3) a discrepancy exists between the charged offense and the evidence presented against him (Doc. 15 at 9); (4) he was not aware that an attempt to commit an offense constituted a prohibited act, thereby depriving him of due process (Doc. 15 at 11); (5) the code section under which he was disciplined, Code 111A, is non-existent (Doc. 15 at 10); (6) the incident report was not prepared by a staff member who actually witnessed the alleged conduct as required by the applicable disciplinary policy (Doc. 15 at 12-13); (7) he was denied the opportunity to call witnesses because the charging document did not identify those persons who actually witnessed the alleged offense (Doc. 22 at 10); and (8) the disciplinary charge resulted from a conspiracy by federal officials to deprive him of his constitutional rights. Doc. 1 at 7. As a result of this disciplinary action, Richardson lost 41 days of good time and was fined $500. Richardson seeks expungement of the disciplinary, return of the $500 fine, and restoration of his good time. Doc. 1 at 8.

         The respondent denies any violation of Richardson's constitutional rights during the disciplinary proceedings. Doc. 21 at 4-5.[2] Specifically, the respondent asserts that the disciplinary proceeding comported with the due process protections afforded by Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-66 (1973), and at least “some evidence” supported the disciplinary hearing officer's finding of guilt as required by Super., Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985).


         A. Lack of Knowledge of Prohibited Conduct and Attempt as an Offense

         Richardson alleges he had no knowledge that an attempt to commit the offense of introducing contraband into a federal prison facility constituted conduct prohibited by applicable disciplinary rules. Richardson cites Reeves v. Pettcox, 19 F.3d 1060, 1062 (5th Cir. 1994), as support for this assertion. In Reeves, an inmate housed in solitary confinement with no access to prison rules, placed his food tray on the outside of his cell and received a disciplinary “for violating a rule requiring all food trays . . . to remain inside the inmate's cell until they are picked up.” Reeves, 19 F.3d at 1061. Under these circumstances, the Fifth Circuit held that Reeves “was entitled to a fair warning, or fair opportunity to know, that his conduct was prohibited before being punished for that conduct[.]” Id. at 1062.

         The respondent maintains the documents filed by Richardson show he had fair notice that an attempt to introduce unauthorized narcotics, marijuana, drugs, alcohol, intoxicants, or related paraphernalia into a federal prison constituted a violation of federal disciplinary rules because upon his placement at FPC Oakdale he acknowledged receiving a copy of the Prohibited Acts and Disciplinary Severity Scale. See Doc. 22-6. The list of “prohibited acts” in effect at the time of Richardson's incarceration at FPC Oakdale identifies the “[i]ntroduction or making of any narcotics, marijuana, drugs, alcohol, intoxicants, or related paraphernalia, not prescribed for the individual by the medical staff” as a disciplinary offense. Doc. 31-1 at 56 (Program Statement No. 5270.09, Table 1). Furthermore, the initial statement regarding prohibited acts specifically advises that “[a]iding, attempting, abetting, or making plans to commit any of the prohibited acts is treated the same as committing the act itself.” Doc. 31-1 at 10. The Program Statement further directs that “[i]n these cases, the letter ‘A' is combined with the offense code [to denote an attempt].” Doc. 31-1 at 11. The respondent further argues that Richardson, who admits knowledge of the underlying offense, had fair reason to know that an attempt to commit this offense would constitute a violation of the rules. Doc. 26 at 5-6 (“[I]t is disingenuous for any prisoner to put forth the argument that he did not know that attempting to bring contraband into a prison institution would be a prohibited act. . . . The fact Petitioner did not ask his wife to bring the contraband through the front door of the prison during her visit, or send the contraband through the United States mail, is a clear indicator that Petitioner knew he was attempting to commit a prohibited act.”). Finally, Richardson concedes that he could have reviewed “the Code of Federal Regulations version or the complete Inmate Discipline Program statement” prior to his receipt of the challenged disciplinary by accessing these materials in the inmate law library, but complains he could only receive a copy of these documents upon “pay[ment] for such reproduction.” Doc. 22 at 6.

         After reviewing the evidence contained in the record, the court finds that Richardson knew or had reason to know that attempting to introduce drugs, alcohol or other items considered contraband into the prison camp constituted a prohibited act.

         B. Challenges to Disciplinary Proceeding

         Richardson argues that he did not have an opportunity to call witnesses at his disciplinary hearing. He also challenges the determination of guilt made by the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”). Under the circumstances of this case, these claims provide no basis for relief.

         On December 1, 2013, SIS Technician D. Reeves compiled an incident report for a Code 111-A violation and served a copy of this report on Richardson. In this report, Reeves stated as follows:

Upon the conclusion on 12-01-2013, of a thorough and complete SIS investigation . . . it was proven that inmate Thaddeus Richardson #32639-034 planned and instructed his wife and kids to make a drop off containing hazardous contraband on federal property beside the Barksdale Federal Credit Union, across the street from [FPC Oakdale].
The contraband items found were 1 liter bottle of alcohol, 1 bottle of Creatine X3, 1 bottle Hydroxycut, two packs of cigarettes, 6 mosquito repellant wristbands, 1 tooth whitening pen and a pack of (50) dental flosser picks. The alcohol was tested with the Alco 3 Sensor with the results of .483 ...

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