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7th Circuit Denies Habeas Relief of Illinois Prisoner’s Good-Conduct Revocation

On October 22, 2009, the 7th Circuit affirmed an Illinois district court’s ruling denying habeas corpus relief to state prisoner, Lasard Lucas. During 20 years of incarceration, from 1985 to 2005, Lucas lost more than 12 years of good-conduct credit for various disciplinary infractions. He filed his initial habeas petition arguing that the process revoking his good-conduct credit violated his due process rights.

In the Illinois' DOC, the process of revoking a prisoner's good-conduct credits is a two-tiered procedure. The initial decision to revoke the credits and the amount to be revoked is made by a prison adjustment committee following a hearing of the facts regarding a specific infraction. That decision is then reviewed by the Prison Review Board (PRB), which may concur, refuse to follow, or reduce the penalty recommended by the committee.

Citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), Lucas argued his procedural due process rights were denied him by the PRB. He originally filed a complaint for mandamus against the PRB, which was dismissed, leading to his filing the habeas petition. The district court determined, and the 7th Circuit concurred, that the Wolff procedures do not pertain to the PRB because it is not a fact-finding panel with the authority to deprive a prisoner of a liberty interest.
As long as the protections specified in Wolff are afforded the prisoner in the initial adjustment committee hearing, the prisoner's due process rights are protected.
See: Lucas v. Montgomery, 583 F. 3d 1028 (7th Cir. 2009).

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Related legal case

Lucas v. Montgomery