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Blevins v. Warden of FCI Tallahassee

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

May 21, 2019



          Michael J. Frank, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Petitioner Shondolyn Blevins has filed a second amended petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc.6). Respondent (“the Government”) filed an answer, providing relevant portions of the administrative record. (Doc. 24). Blevins replied. (Doc. 27). For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends that the petition be denied.[1]

         I. Background

         Blevins is currently confined at the Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. In this habeas action, Blevins challenges a prison disciplinary conviction she received at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, Florida, that resulted in the loss of good conduct time (“GCT”).

         On August 21, 2016, Blevins was involved in an altercation with a fellow inmate (“Inmate Doe”). Blevins claimed that Inmate Doe assaulted her and that she merely defended herself. Officer M. Harrell investigated the incident and, on August 31, 2016, charged both inmates with violating Prohibited Act 201 - Fighting with another person. (Doc. 6, p. 3; Doc. 24, Ex. 2; see also 28 C.F.R. § 541.3, Table 1 - Prohibited Acts and Available Sanctions). Blevins was charged in Incident Report No. 2890735. (Doc. 24, Ex. 2).

         Lieutenant Winner delivered a copy of the Incident Report to Blevins on August 31, 2016, and conducted his/her own investigation where the following evidence was collected: (1) statements from Blevins and Inmate Doe, (2) Officer Harrell's investigative memorandum, (3) photographs of Blevins and Doe taken after the incident and (4) medical assessments of Blevins and Doe conducted after the incident. (Doc. 24, Ex. 2, pp. 1, 2). Lt. Winner referred the matter for a disciplinary hearing. (Id., p. 2). Blevins received notice of the hearing on September 4, 2016. (Doc. 24, Ex. 3).

         The disciplinary hearing was held on September 22, 2016. (Doc. 24, Ex. 5). Blevins appeared and was provided the assistance of a staff representative, who spoke on Blevins' behalf. (Id.). Blevins testified and called a witness, who presented testimony through a written statement. (Id.).

         The Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”), Officer Orr, found Blevins guilty of fighting with another person. Officer Orr explained this decision in a written report dated September 27, 2016:

The DHO finds you committed the prohibited act of fighting with another person, code 201.
You stated you were ready to proceed. You request P. Dahlstrom, Chaplin as your staff representative to assist you in preparing your defense and [inmate's name redacted] as your witness. Due to inmate [redacted] being in general population and you are house in the Special Housing Unit a secured unit she did not appeared before the DHO in person due to security reason. However, she submitted a written statement in your defense. You stated you understood your rights before the DHO. You stated you received your copy of the incident report. You have been afforded due process and have had ample time to prepare a defense prior to the discipline hearing.
It is the decision of the DHO that you committed the prohibited act of code 201, fighting with another person. This decision is based on the statement of the reporting officer. Officer M. Harrell stated an investigation was completed on August 31, 2016 and revealed on August 21, 2016 at approximately 7:30 a.m. Inmate [Doe], Reg. No. [redacted] confronted you, in cub D03-013 in reference to something she thought you was saying specifically that you was going to whip her. You and [Doe] got into a heated verbal argument which included name calling and it led to you walking out of the cube and bumping into [Doe]. You and [Doe] exchanged more words until she pushed you back into the corner of the cube and stroked you in the face. You then scratch her about the face and neck. Your finger came close to [Doe's] mouth and she bit the pad of your left pointer finger. [Doe] and you were medical assessed and received injuries consisted with being in a physical altercation. Staff provided photographs, medical assessments. Memorandums as evidence.
The DHO considered your medical assessment which indicated you had multiple superficial scratches to the posterior upper neck, numerous superficial scratches to the right shoulder, three superficial scratches to the anterior neck-chine area and a cut on the second (pointer) finger on the left hand. Inmate [Doe's] medical assessment was completed on August 23, 2016 and shows no injuries; However she was photographed with scratches to her face and neck. This is consistent with the fact that you was scratching [Doe] about the face when she bit your finger.
Your staff representative appeared before the DHO and stated he reviewed the photographs and stated he observed starches on [Doe's] upper lip and neck and you had starches on your neck and jaw line.
You appeared before the DHO and stated I was not fighting she had me on the wall and the stretches in my back came from a hook on the wall. Your witness [inmate's name redacted] wrote in her written statement. A fight took place in D/N with two inmates. She reports one of the inmates was in front of the other inmate cube starting drama. They said a couple of words and it went from there the inmate hit first was called [Doe]. She hit Shonata first and they started it going meaning fighting each other.
The DHO determined based on the evidence above and the greatest weight of the evidence you did commit the act fighting with another person, code 201. The greatest weight is considered the officer written report, SIS Investigation, the medical assessments and photos of the both of you documenting injuries sustained. Accordingly, it is the finding of the DHO that you committed the prohibited act as charged.

(Doc. 24, Ex. 5, p. 2) (spelling, typographical and grammatical errors in original). The severity of Blevins' offense was rated “High” pursuant to BOP regulations. (Doc. 24, Ex. 5, p. 2; see also 28 C.F.R. § 541.3, Table 1 - Prohibited Acts and Available Sanctions, “High Severity Level Prohibited Acts”).

         As a result of the conviction, Blevins lost 27 days of GCT, spent 20 days in disciplinary segregation, and lost telephone privileges for 63 months. (Id.). DHO Orr provided these reasons for the disciplinary action:

Fighting can lead to serious injury to both parties as well as staff and could have escalated into a major confrontation between inmates and/or staff and threatens the security of the institution. The behavior displayed by this violation of discipline could have led to a more serious injury to you, and serious injury to the other inmate involved. Fighting undermines discipline and cannot be allowed to go unpunished.
Disciplinary segregation was imposed due to the severity of your offense. It is apparent that your adjustment in population has been poor up to this point. Hopefully, this sanction will influence your future decisions to commit offenses such as these.
Good conduct time was disallowed because of the severity of the offense and to deter this activity in the future. It is apparent your conduct reflects poor institution adjustment and does not warrant the same consideration for good conduct time as those inmates following the rules and regulations of the bureau of prisons.
Loss of privileges was imposed due to your poor institution adjustment and behavior. This privilege is meant for those inmates who follow rules and regulations and do not present a management problem for staff or pose a threat to the security of the institution, self, or others. It is apparent, that by your conduct, you do not value these privileges.
These sanctions have been imposed to correct the present inappropriate behavior and deter future behavior of this type. The DHO hopes that the sanctions will motivate you ...

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