WILT v. KNIGHT
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT - The petition for a writ of habeas corpus 1 is DENIED. This action is DISMISSED. Judgment consistent with this Order shall now issue. (See Order.) Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 8/1/2022. Copy to Plaintiff via US Mail. (JSR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jason Wilt filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging a Correctional Industrial
Facility disciplinary proceeding identified as CIC 20-12-0134. For the reasons explained in this
Order, Mr. Wilt's habeas petition is denied, and the clerk is directed to enter final judgment in
Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits or 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).
The Disciplinary Proceeding
On December 22, 2020, Officer R. Swearingen issued a Report of Conduct charging
Mr. Wilt with a violation of Offense Code A 106 for possession of a deadly weapon. Dkt. 14-1
at 1. The Conduct Report states:
On 12/22/2020 at approximately 1:20 AM I, Officer R. Swearingen 3 7 6 (W /M)
was conducting a shake down in 19CD-2D with Sgt. Wilson when I found a
toothbrush with the head removed and a razor blade tied to it with plastic in a cream
box under the mat in the bottom bed location. Wilt, Jason #280799 19C-2D would
not claim the item.
On December 31, 2020, Mr. Wilt was notified of the charges, pleaded not guilty, and
requested a lay advocate. Dkt. 14-5. A hearing was held on January 19, 2021, and Mr. Wilt denied
any wrongdoing, noting "[t]he weapon was found under my Bunkie mattress in his assigned area,
not in my property." Dkt. 14-8. The DHO found Mr. Wilt guilty based on staff reports, Mr. Wilt's
statements, witness statements, and video evidence. Id. Mr. Wilt received a loss of 190 days of
earned credit time and a one-credit class demotion. Id.
Mr. Wilt filed both of his appeals, and both were denied. Dkts. 14-9 at 1-2 and 14-10.
He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, dkt. 1, for
which Respondent provided a return, dkt. 14. Mr. Wilt requested and was granted extra time to
submit a reply, dkts. 20 and 21, but he has not submitted one.
Mr. Wilt asserts two grounds to challenge his prison disciplinary conviction: (1) that there
was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of the charged offense; and (2) that the disciplinary
officials failed to follow prison policies. Dkt. 1 at 3-5.
A. Sufficiency of the Evidence
Challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence are governed by the "some evidence"
standard. "[A] hearing officer's decision need only rest on 'some evidence' logically supporting it
and demonstrating that the result is not arbitrary." Ellison, 820 F.3d at 274. In assessing whether
there is some evidence – any evidence – the Court does not re-weigh the evidence nor does it assess
the credibility of any witnesses. See Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000) ("It is
not our province to assess the comparative weight of the evidence underlying the disciplinary
In this case, there is some evidence Mr. Wilt possessed a deadly weapon. Mr. Wilt was
found guilty of possession of a deadly weapon after a correctional officer discovered a shank
underneath the bunk beds. Dkt. 14-8. While Mr. Wilt insists the weapon was found under his bunk
mate's bed, the DHO noted that neither inmate claimed ownership. Id. Therefore, the DHO deemed
both inmates to be in possession. Id. Given the circumstances, the DHO was permitted to assign
possession to both inmates since the weapon was discovered in their sleeping quarters. Dkts. 14-1,
14-2, and 14-8; see Hamilton v. O'Leary, 976 F.2d 341, 345 (7th Cir. 1992) ("If . . . only two
inmates had access to the vent, there is a 50% probability that each inmate is guilty; a 50%
probability amounts to 'some evidence.'"). Accordingly, Mr. Wilt's sufficiency of the evidence
challenge is denied.
B. Prison Policies
Prison policies are "primarily designed to guide correctional officials in the administration
of a prison" and not "to confer rights on inmates." Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 481-82
(1995). Therefore, claims based on prison policy are not cognizable and do not form a basis for
habeas relief. See Keller v. Donahue, 271 F. App'x 531, 532 (7th Cir. 2008) (rejecting challenges
to a prison disciplinary proceeding because, "[i]nstead of addressing any potential constitutional
defect, all of [the petitioner's] arguments relate to alleged departures from procedures outlined in
the prison handbook that have no bearing on his right to due process"); Rivera v. Davis, 50 F.
App'x 779, 780 (7th Cir. 2002) ("A prison's noncompliance with its internal regulations has no
constitutional import—and nothing less warrants habeas corpus review."); see also Estelle v.
McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 at n.2 (1991) ("[S]tate-law violations provide no basis for federal habeas
relief."). Mr. Wilt's claim based on the alleged violation of prison policies is therefore denied.
Accordingly, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED. This action is
DISMISSED. Judgment consistent with this Order shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
JASON WILT, 280799
PENDLETON - CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIAL FACILITY
CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIAL FACILITY
5124 West Reformatory Road
PENDLETON, IN 46064
Office of Indiana Attorney General
Benjamin Myron Lane Jones
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Marjorie H. Lawyer-Smith
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
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