United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
John E. Jones III Judge
before the Court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus
(Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, filed by
Petitioner Terrance Bonner (“Bonner”), a federal
inmate housed at the Federal Correctional Institution at
Schuylkill, Minersville, Pennsylvania. He alleges that his
due process rights were violated in the context of a
disciplinary proceeding. The petition is ripe for disposition
and, for the reasons that follow, will be denied.
Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) disciplinary
process is fully outlined in Code of Federal Regulations,
Title 28, Sections 541 through 541.8 (2011). These
regulations dictate the manner in which disciplinary action
may be taken should a prisoner violate, or attempt to
violate, institutional rules. The first step requires filing
an incident report and conducting an investigation pursuant
to 28 C.F.R. § 541.5. Staff is required to conduct the
investigation promptly absent intervening circumstances
beyond the control of the investigator. 28 C.F.R. §
the investigation, the matter is referred to the Unit
Disciplinary Committee (“UDC”) for an initial
hearing pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 541.7. If the UDC finds
that a prisoner has committed a prohibited act, it may impose
minor sanctions. Id. If the alleged violation is
serious and warrants consideration for more than minor
sanctions, or involves a prohibited act listed in the
greatest or high category offenses, the UDC refers the matter
to a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”) for a
hearing. Id. Greatest Severity category offenses
carry a possible sanction of, inter alia, loss of
good conduct time credits. 28 C.F.R. § 541.3.
require the Warden to give the inmate advance written notice
of the charges no less than 24 hours before the DHO hearing
and offer the inmate a full time staff member to represent
him at the DHO hearing. Id. at § 541.8 (c) and
DHO hearing, the inmate is “entitled to make a
statement and present documentary evidence” and has the
right to submit names of requested witnesses and have them
called to testify and to present documents. Id. at
§ 541.8(f). The DHO shall “call witnesses who have
information directly relevant to the charge[s] and who are
reasonably available.” Id. § 541.8(f)(2).
The DHO need not call repetitive witnesses or adverse
witnesses. Id. § 541.8(f)(3). The inmate has
the right to be present throughout the DHO hearing except
during “DHO deliberations or when [his] presence would
jeopardize institution security, at the DHO's
discretion.” Id. § 541.8(e). The DHO must
“consider all evidence presented during the
hearing.” Id. § 541.8(f). “The
DHO's decision will be based on at least some facts and,
if there is conflicting evidence, on the greater weight of
the evidence.” Id. The DHO has the authority
to dismiss any charge, find a prohibited act was committed,
and impose available sanctions. Id. at § 541.8.
The DHO must prepare a record of the proceedings sufficient
to document the advisement of inmate rights, DHO's
findings, “DHO's decision”, specific
“evidence relied on by the DHO” and must identify
the reasons for the sanctions imposed. Id. at §
541.8(f)(2). A copy must be delivered to the inmate.
20, 2015, upon conclusion of an investigation conducted by
Lieutenant J. Vuksta, Bonner received Incident Report
2676108, charging him with violation of Prohibited Act Code
111, “Introduction of Narcotics” which occurred
while Bonner was housed at the Federal Correctional
Institution at Elkton (“FCI-Elkton”), Lisbon,
Ohio. (Doc. 7-1, pp. 14-15). The Incident Report, authored by
Lieutenant Butts, contains the following description of the
(Dated: 1-27-15 Time: 10:00 a.m. Staff became aware of
incident)[.] A SIS investigation concluded that on October 5,
2014, inmate Terrence Bonner, Reg. No. 07168-068, introduced
a green leafy substance that tested positive for Amphetamines
(suspected to be K2). On October 5, 2014, at approximately
11:38 a.m. inmate Bonner was observed putting an object in
his mouth in the FCI Elkton visiting room. A review of
Bonner's email message revealed a conversation regarding
the amount of drugs and money in a coded email. Bonner was
placed in an observation cell and provided two 3"
tubular balloons containing a green leafy substance that
tested positive for Amphetamines.
(Doc. 7-1, p. 14).
received written notice of the charges against him on May 20,
2015. Staff advised him of his rights on the same date.
(Id. at 15). When questioned about the incident, he
responded he had “Nothing to say.” (Id.)
The matter was referred for a UDC hearing during which he
stated “I'm not guilty of this and never provided
2[, ] 3 inch tubular balloons.” (Id.) The UDC
referred the matter to the DHO because “UDC Sanctions
not avail. For Code 111.” (Id. at 14).
22, 2015, Bonner, signed the “Inmate Rights at
Disciplinary Hearing” form and “Notice of
Discipline Hearing Before the (DHO)” form.
(Id. at 16, 17). At that time, he declined
representation by a staff member and indicated that he did
not wish to call witnesses. (Id. at 17).
during the June 1, 2015 disciplinary hearing, the DHO advised
Bonner of his rights; Bonner indicated that he understood
them and chose to provide the following statement:
“[t]hey alleged that I swallowed something and I was
placed on dry cell after the visit.” (Id. at
18). The DHO acknowledged that staff provided Bonner with
written notice of the charges, that he declined the offer of
a staff representative, and chose not to call witnesses.
(Id. at 18). Bonner did not raise any procedural
issues or submit documentary evidence. (Id.)
noted the delay in the commencement of the discipline process
due to the incident being referred to the Federal Bureau of
Investigations and the United States Attorney's Office
for criminal prosecution. (Id.) He also noted that
the agency declined ...