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Oregon Rules Authorizing Restitution as Disciplinary Sanction Upheld

The Oregon Court of Appeals rejected a prisoner’s constitutional and statutory challenge of administrative rules authorizing the imposition of restitution as a prison disciplinary sanction and the withdrawal of money from his prison trust account to pay such restitution.

OAR 291-105-0069 authorizes ODOC disciplinary hearings officers to impose restitution as a sanction for a major rule violation. OAR 291-158-0065, in turn, authorizes ODOC to withdraw a percentage of the funds in a prisoner’s trust account to pay financial obligations, including restitution imposed as a disciplinary sanction.

Oregon prisoner Roger D. Hall brought a rule challenge pursuant to ORS 183.400(1), seeking to invalidate the rules on the grounds that they exceed the ODOC’s statutory authority and are unconstitutional.

Rule challenges are limited to facial challenges and the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider an “as applied” challenge. Nevertheless, Hall argued that the imposition and withdrawal of restitution deprived him of due process because he was denied the right “to be heard” before his funds were “garnished.” Hall’s “assertions that the rules are invalid relate to the way DOC has applied those rules to him,” the Court found. “That is, he claims that his due process rights were violated because of the specific actions that DOC took (or failed to take) in imposing discipline.” Therefore, Hall’s claims were beyond the Court’s jurisdiction under ORS 183.400(4)(a).

The Court also rejected Hall’s argument that the rules are invalid because ODOC “does ‘not have the authority to fine or restitute inmates [their] legal property via money on their inmate accounts.’”

The Court observed that Hall “does not engage with any of the statutes cited as authority for the rules in question” including ORS 421.180, which authorizes ODOC to create rules related to prisoner discipline. Rather, Hall appeared to argue that only a court may impose restitution in criminal cases, pursuant to ORS 137.106. The Court disagreed, concluding that nothing in that section limits ODOC’s authority described in ORS 421.180 to discipline prisoners. Therefore, Hall failed to establish that the challenged rules are outside the statutory authority granted to ODOC. See: Hall v. DOC, 268 Or App 134,_P.3d_(2014), review denied.

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Related legal case

Hall v. DOC