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Illinois Statute Authorizing Revocation of Good Time Credits for Frivolous Court Filings Upheld

By Brandon Sample

The State of Illinois may lawfully deprive good time credits from prisoners who file frivolous post-conviction petitions, the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, decided November 26, 2008.

Cameron Shaw, an Illinois prisoner, filed a post-conviction petition under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act seeking relief from his armed robbery conviction. In August of 2006, the trial court dismissed Shaw’s petition, finding it frivolous and patently without merit. Contemporaneous with its dismissal order, the Court director the clerk to mail a copy of its order to the warden at the facility where Shaw was confined for a determination whether some of Shaw’s good time should be revoked for filing a frivolous pleading. The warden subsequently revoked 180 days of Shaw’s good time.

Shaw appealed the trial court’s order arguing that the revocation of good time credits for filing frivolous pleadings was unconstitutional. The appeals court disagreed.

“The State has a legitimate interest in ensuring that its courts are not overburdened with frivolous litigation,” the court wrote. The statute authorizing revocation furthered this purpose and consequently did not violate equal protection. Further, revocation did not impinge on Shaw’s right of access to the courts, the court held, as Shaw was unable to show that he suffered an actual injury, prejudice to existing or impending litigation. The judgment of the lower court was accordingly affirmed. See: People v. Shaw, 898 N.E.2d 755 (2008).

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Related legal case

People v. Shaw