GREENWELL v. KNIGHT
ENTRY - DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT. The petition of Reginald Greenwell, Jr., for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as CIC 19-07-00335. For the above reasons, Mr. Greenwell is not entitled to the relief he seeks. His petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. (See Entry.) Copy to Petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 9/8/2020.(NAD)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
REGINALD GREENWELL, JR.,
WENDY KNIGHT Warden,
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
The petition of Reginald Greenwell, Jr., for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison
disciplinary proceeding identified as CIC 19-07-00335. For the reasons explained in this Entry,
Mr. Greenwell's petition must be denied.
Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits or of credit-earning
class without due process. Ellison v. Zatecky, 820 F.3d 271, 274 (7th Cir. 2016); Scruggs v. Jordan,
485 F.3d 934, 939 (7th Cir. 2007); see also Rhoiney v. Neal, 723 F. App'x 347, 348 (7th Cir. 2018).
The due process requirement is satisfied with: 1) the issuance of at least 24 hours advance written
notice of the charge; 2) a limited opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence to an impartial
decision-maker; 3) a written statement articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the
evidence justifying it; and 4) "some evidence in the record" to support the finding of guilt.
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); see also Wolff v. McDonnell,
418 U.S. 539, 563-67 (1974).
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The Disciplinary Proceeding
On July 26, 2019, Officer T. Palmer wrote a conduct report that charged Mr. Greenwell
with Class B offense 208, security threat group/unauthorized organizational activity. The conduct
On Friday July 26, 2019 at approx[imately] 8:30 a.m., I, Ofc. T. Palmer, conducted
a shakedown of Ofd. Greenwell, Reginald DOC #160264 housed in 20L-1ARH and
found 4 pages of STG material writings. I asked Ofd. Greenwell about the writings
and he stated that it was not STG and it was a book he is writing. I then asked him
to sign a confiscation slip and he refused.
Dkt. 9-1 (errors in original). Officer Palmer also completed an evidence record form. Dkt. 9-2. The
writings are part of the confidential record as are internal investigation reports. Dkt. 10, 11 (ex
On July 31, 2019, the screening officer provided Mr. Greenwell with the conduct report
and the notice of disciplinary hearing (screening report). Dkt. 9-5. Mr. Greenwell pleaded not
guilty, did not request a lay advocate, and waived the 24-hour notice of the disciplinary hearing.
Id. Mr. Greenwell did not request any witnesses or physical evidence. Id.
On August 9, 2019, the hearing officer conducted a hearing for case CIC-19-07- 0335. Dkt.
9-6. At the hearing, Mr. Greenwell said, "It's a book that I was writing. The Ofc. wasn’t sure this
was STG. It’s not STG. I’m writing [an] urban lit novel." Id.
The hearing officer found Mr. Greenwell guilty of offense B-208 based on staff reports and
the statement of the offender. Id. The hearing officer explained, "Evidence mentions 'Pitchforks
up,' this is associated with 'Folks Nation.' Evidence supports a finding of guilt." Id. The sanctions
included a 30-day loss of phone and commissary privileges and the loss of 90 days of credit time.
Mr. Greenwell's appeals to the facility head and to the final reviewing authority for the
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Indiana Department of Correction were denied. Dkts. 9-7, 9-8, 9-9, 9-10.
Mr. Greenwell argues that his writings are protected speech under the First
Amendment and cannot support a guilty finding. The Court also construes his petition as a
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence.
Mr. Greenwell was charged with B-208, security threat group/unauthorized
organizational activity. The Indiana Department of Correction defines the offense of
participating in security threat group activities as:
Engaging, pressuring or authorizing others to engage in security threat group or
unauthorized organizational activities, meetings or criminal acts; displaying
wearing, possessing or using security threat group or unauthorized organizational
insignia or materials; or, giving security threat group or unauthorized
organizational signs. Unauthorized organizational activity shall include engaging
in the above activities by or on behalf of an organization that has not been approved
by the Department of Correction.
Dkt. 9-11 at 5.
As a prisoner, Mr. Greenwell's First Amendment rights are not unlimited. "In Turner [v.
Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987)], the Supreme Court determined that prison regulations that restrict
inmates' constitutional rights are nevertheless valid if they are reasonably related to legitimate
penological interests." Singer v. Raemisch, 593 F.3d 529, 534 (7th Cir. 2010). Courts consider four
factors set forth by Turner when determining the reasonableness of restrictive prison regulations:
"(1) whether there is a rational relationship between the regulation and the legitimate
government interest advanced;
(2) whether the inmates have alternative means of exercising the restricted right;
(3) whether and the extent to which accommodation of the asserted right will impact prison
staff, inmates' liberty, and the allocation of limited prison resources; and
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(4) whether the contested regulation is an "exaggerated response" to prison concerns and
if there is a "ready alternative" that would accommodate inmates' rights."
Id. (citing Turner, 482 U.S. at 89-91).
"Inmates like [Mr. Greenwell] who challenge the reasonableness of a prison regulation
bear the burden of proving its invalidity." Id. "The burden is a weighty one: We must accord
substantial deference to the professional judgment of prison administrators, who bear a significant
responsibility for defining the legitimate goals of a corrections system and for determining the
most appropriate means to accomplish them." Id. (internal quotation omitted).
As discussed in the respondent's return to order to show cause, a policy that restricts
inmates' abilities to encourage or use security threat group or other gang activities is related to the
legitimate government interest of security and safety in the prison. Folks Nation is a known
security threat group. Confiscating Mr. Greenwell's writings was a reasonable way of enforcing
the policy and Mr. Greenwell has other means of expressing himself and communicating with
other inmates. He has not met his burden of showing that the enforcement of the security threat
group offense was improper. Any First Amendment violation that resulted was valid.
Turning to Mr. Greenwell's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, the Court notes
that the evidentiary standard for disciplinary habeas claims, "some evidence," is very low. "The
some evidence standard . . . is satisfied if there is any evidence in the record that could support the
conclusion reached by the disciplinary board." Eichwedel v. Chandler, 696 F.3d 660, 675 (7th Cir.
2012) (citation and quotation marks omitted); see also Ellison, 820 F.3d at 274 ("a hearing officer's
decision need only rest on 'some evidence' logically supporting it and demonstrating that the result
is not arbitrary."); Donelson v. Pfister, 811 F.3d 911, 916 (7th Cir. 2016) ("Under Hill, 'the relevant
question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached
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by the disciplinary board.'") (quoting Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56)). The "some evidence" standard is
much more lenient than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d
978, 981 (7th Cir. 2002). The conduct report "alone" can "provide 'some evidence' for the . . .
decision." McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999).
In this case, the conduct report describes the confiscation of security threat group writings.
The hearing officer noted that the writings referenced "pitchforks up" which is associated with
security threat groups. Dkt. 9-6. Internal investigation officers determined that the writings referred
to security threat groups and that they were therefore not authorized. Dkt. 11 (ex parte). Mr.
Greenwell's contention that he was writing an "urban novel" does not change these facts. There is
"some evidence" that Mr. Greenwell violated offense B-208. Mr. Greenwell's challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence fails.
Mr. Greenwell was given proper notice and had an opportunity to defend the charge. The
hearing officer provided a written statement of the reasons for the finding of guilt and described
the evidence that was considered. There was sufficient evidence in the record to support the finding
of guilt. Under these circumstances, there were no violations of Mr. Greenwell's due process rights.
For the above reasons, Mr. Greenwell is not entitled to the relief he seeks. His petition for
a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this
Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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REGINALD GREENWELL, JR.
PENDLETON - CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIAL FACILITY
CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIAL FACILITY
5124 West Reformatory Road
PENDLETON, IN 46064
Katherine A. Cornelius
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
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