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Washington Jail Denied Good Time without Due Process; Rehearing Ordered

The Washington Court of Appeals held in an unpublished opinion that a prisoner was denied good time credits without adequate due process protections.

Allen Michael Knoll was held in the Skagit County jail between March 2011 and August 30, 2011, when he was transferred to the Washington Department of Corrections. One day prior to his transfer, jail officials notified Knoll that he would not receive any good time credits because he “had been the subject of over 40 incident reports and had been disciplined 10 times for both major and minor rule violations.”

Knoll requested a hearing, contending that he had not been disciplined 10 times. The hearing was held five hours later and “the hearing officer upheld the denial of good time credit,” finding that Knoll had been the subject of “43 reports, 10 disciplinary actions, and 2 instances of use of force” at the jail.

Knoll then filed a personal restraint petition, arguing that inadequate advance notice of the hearing and lack of specificity of the disciplinary actions deprived him of good time credits without due process.

The Court of Appeals accepted the state’s concession that the jail’s failure to provide Knoll with at least 24 hours to prepare for the hearing violated minimal due process requirements. The Court further found that “the notice provided only the number of incident reports and disciplinary actions. Without further identification or description of the disciplinary incidents at issue, the notice failed to provide sufficient information to enable Knoll to defend against the allegations.”

However, following In re PRP of Atwood, 146 P.3d 1232 (Wash. Ct. App. 2006), the Court rejected Knoll’s argument that restoration of good time credits was the proper remedy, as he had not lost previously-earned good time. Rather, he was only entitled to another hearing that comports with the minimal due process protections set forth in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S.Ct. 2963 (1974).

“While it is true that Knoll is not entitled to litigate the underlying facts of his prior disciplinary incidents,” the appellate court explained, “the existence of those disciplinary incidents must be established to support the denial of good time premised on the prior incidents.” See: In re PRP of Knoll, 2013 Wash. App. LEXIS 498 (Wash. Ct. App. 2013) (unpublished).

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