Hernandez v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice et al
ORDERED that the complaint is dismissed with prejudice pursuant to 28 USC 1915A(b)(1). All motions not previously ruled on are denied. Signed by Judge Ron Clark on 3/7/2017. (bjc, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
EDUARDO HERNANDEZ, #1272764
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL
JUSTICE, ET AL.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:16cv629
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
Plaintiff Eduardo Hernandez, an inmate confined at the Michael Unit of the Texas prison
system, proceeding pro se, filed the above-styled and numbered civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint was referred to United States Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell,
who issued a Report and Recommendation (Dkt. #17) concluding that the lawsuit should be
dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). Mr. Hernandez has filed objections (Dkt. #19).
Mr. Hernandez complains that inmates are forced to work without compensation. He
argues that making inmates work without compensation amounts to slavery, in violation of the
Thirteenth Amendment. Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment states the following:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United
States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
The Fifth Circuit has repeatedly rejected lawsuits based on the Thirteenth Amendment where
inmates complained they were not paid or compensated for their work product. Ali v. Johnson,
259 F.3d 317, 318 (5th Cir. 2001) (“[I]nmates sentenced to incarceration cannot state a viable
Thirteenth Amendment claim if the prison system requires them to work.”); Wendt v. Lynaugh,
841 F.2d 619, 620 (5th Cir. 1988); Walker v. Director Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 177
F. App’x 426 (5th Cir. 2006). The Court observed that the Thirteenth Amendment specifically
excepts “punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” Wendt, 841
F.2d at 620. In his objections, Mr. Hernandez complains about Magistrate Judge Mitchell’s
assessment of his claims and accuses her of bias, but he has not shown that her conclusions were
contrary to established law in this Circuit.
Mr. Hernandez spends an extensive amount of time in his objections focusing on
Magistrate Judge Mitchell’s conclusion that he does not have a constitutionally protected interest
in good time and work time. “’[N]either habeas nor civil rights relief can be had absent the
allegation by a plaintiff that he or she has been deprived of some right secured to him or her by the
United States Constitution or the laws of the United States.’” Hillard v. Bd. of Pardons and
Paroles, 759 F.2d 1190, 1192 (5th Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). “There is no constitutional or
inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released before the expiration of a valid
sentence.” Greenholtz v. Inmates of Neb. Penal & Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7, 99 S. Ct.
2100, 2014 (1979). Under the Constitution, a prison system is entitled to incarcerate an inmate
the entire length of his sentence. A State may, however, establish a parole system. Id. An
inmate may have a due process right in good time and an expectancy of early release depending
upon the wording of a state statute. Id. at 11-12, 99 S. Ct. at 2106. Texas law, however, does
not create an entitlement to release on parole. Williams v. Briscoe, 641 F.2d 274, 277 (5th Cir.),
cert. denied, 454 U.S. 854, 102 S. Ct. 299 (1981).
By comparison, Texas’ mandatory supervision law creates some “expectancy of release,”
thereby providing a protected liberty interest. Boss v. Quarterman, 552 F.3d 425, 427 (5th Cir.
2008). Thus the initial question for the Court’s consideration is whether Mr. Hernandez is eligible
for release on mandatory supervision. As was noted in the Report and Recommendation, Mr.
Hernandez is in custody pursuant to five 2004 convictions for the offense of aggravated sexual
assault of a child, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment for each offense. See
https://offender.tdcj.texas.gov/OffenderSearch/offenderDetail.action?sid=05001388. He is not
eligible for release on mandatory supervision due to the nature of his convictions. Tex. Gov’t Code
§ 508.149(a)(8) (Vernon 2004). He is also ineligible for release on mandatory supervision because
of his life sentences. Arnold v. Cockrell, 306 F.3d 277, 279 (5th Cir. 2002). Because he is not
eligible for release on mandatory supervision, Mr. Hernandez does not have a protected liberty
interest in good conduct time or work time associated with mandatory supervision. Bagby v.
Karriker, 539 F. App’x 468, 469 (5th Cir. 2013).
In his objections, Mr. Hernandez complains at length about the convictions, but the
legitimacy of the convictions is not before the court. He may challenge the convictions in habeas
corpus proceedings in the appropriate courts, but the issue is not part of this lawsuit. At this
juncture, he has convictions that make him ineligible for release on mandatory supervision.
Because he is ineligible for release on mandatory supervision, he does not have a protected liberty
interest in good conduct time or work time associated with release on mandatory supervision. Id.
His claims about good conduct time and work time associated with mandatory supervision are
Finally, Mr. Hernandez renews his complaint about officials punishing inmates if they
refuse to work. The Fifth Circuit has clearly held, however, that the “refusal to work, by a group
or even a single inmate, presents a serious threat to the orderly functioning of a prison. Any
unjustified refusal to follow the established work regime is an invitation to sanctions.” Mikeska
v. Collins, 900 F.2d 833, 837 (5th Cir. 1990), modified, 928 F.2d 126 (5th Cir. 1991). Mr.
Hernadez’s complaints about inmates being forced to work and being punished if they refuse to
work are frivolous.
The Report of the Magistrate Judge, which contains her proposed findings of fact and
recommendations for the disposition of such action, has been presented for consideration, and
having made a de novo review of the objections raised by Mr. Hernandez to the Report, the court
is of the opinion that the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge are correct, and Mr.
Hernandez’s objections are without merit.
Therefore, the court adopts the findings and
conclusions of the Magistrate Judge as the findings and conclusions of the court. It is accordingly
ORDERED that the complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(b)(1). All motions not previously ruled on are DENIED.
So ORDERED and SIGNED this 7 day of March, 2017.
Ron Clark, United States District Judge
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