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Washington Ad Seg Prisoner Improperly Denied Earned Time

Washington Ad Seg Prisoner Improperly Denied Earned Time

by Mark Wilson

On December 30, 2013, the Washington State Court of Appeals held that prison officials had improperly denied earned time credit to a prisoner held in administrative segregation (ad seg).

Washington law authorizes sentence reductions for “earned time,” which is awarded for prison programming and other positive behavior. Department of Corrections (DOC) Policy 350.100 provides, however, that prisoners confined in ad seg for “20 days or more in one calendar month” are ineligible for earned time unless the confinement is not for “negative behavior.”

William F. Jensen, a former King County sheriff’s deputy, was convicted of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. As a former law enforcement officer he was placed in the BAR unit at the Washington State Penitentiary, which houses “vulnerable” offenders.

In January 2011, Jensen was accused of soliciting sex from another BAR unit prisoner; he was transferred to ad seg while the allegation was investigated.

An investigator ultimately decided the charge was unfounded. “Because the investigation concluded that Jensen committed no wrongdoing, he was not placed in administrative segregation for ‘negative behavior,’” the appellate court wrote. The DOC conceded he had been held in segregation “for his own protection and safety.”

Nevertheless, the DOC refused to grant Jensen 13.53 days of earned time while he was confined in ad seg and refused to expunge records of the investigation.

The Washington Court of Appeals granted Jensen’s personal restraint petition, finding the “DOC did not follow its own policy when it denied Jensen the opportunity to accumulate earned time while placed in administrative segregation.” The DOC was ordered to credit Jensen for the earned time he should have received in ad seg.

The appellate court rejected Jensen’s expungement arguments, however, holding that “DOC Policy 460.00, which Jensen cites, involves expungement of records following disciplinary hearings.” That policy was inapplicable since “Jensen was never infracted nor underwent a disciplinary hearing for the January 2011 incident because an investigation revealed the allegations were unfounded.”

The Court of Appeals also rejected Jensen’s due process argument, finding he did “not establish that he has a protected liberty interest in the expungement of his records.” See: In re PRP of Jensen, 2013 Wash. App. LEXIS 2953 (Wash. Ct. App. Dec. 30, 2013).


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Related legal case

In re PRP of Jensen