Ex parte Boykins

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtHARWOOD, Justice.
PartiesEx parte Gregory BOYKINS. (In re Gregory Boykins v. State of Alabama).
Decision Date20 December 2002

862 So.2d 587

Ex parte Gregory BOYKINS.
(In re Gregory Boykins v. State of Alabama)

1011152.

Supreme Court of Alabama.

December 20, 2002.


Gregory Boykins, pro se.

Andrew W. Redd, gen. counsel, for respondent Department of Corrections.

HARWOOD, Justice.

On September 17, 2001, Gregory Boykins, an inmate at the Bullock County Correctional Facility, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Bullock County Circuit Court challenging the denial by the

862 So.2d 588
Department of Corrections ("the DOC") of his request to receive incentive good time ("IGT"). On October 26, 2001, the district attorney's office filed a motion to dismiss the petition, which Boykins opposed. In an order issued on November 1, 2001, the trial court characterized Boykins's petition as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and granted the motion to dismiss. On December 19, 2001, Boykins filed a notice of appeal to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. That court affirmed the trial court's order of dismissal in an unpublished memorandum, Boykins v. State, (No. CR-01-0659, February 22, 2002) 854 So.2d 1228 (Ala.Crim.App.2002) (table)

Boykins petitioned this Court for a writ of certiorari to review the Court of Criminal Appeals' affirmance of the trial court's order. We granted Boykins's petition on May 28, 2002, to address the question whether the Court of Criminal Appeals properly affirmed the trial court's order of dismissal where the basis of the dismissal was the trial court's treatment of Boykins's petition for a writ of certiorari as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

The record reveals that in March 1973 Boykins was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 60 years' imprisonment.1 In September 1974, while working on a "road camp," Boykins escaped. He remained a fugitive from 1974 until April 1995, when he was returned to the custody of the DOC. While on escape, Boykins pleaded guilty to another murder in Illinois. Subsequent to his return to the custody of the DOC, Boykins requested eligibility to earn IGT. His requests were denied by the DOC because of its determination that Boykins failed to meet the criteria for receipt of IGT.

In affirming the trial court's dismissal of Boykins's petition as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the Court of Criminal Appeals stated in its unpublished memorandum:

"Boykins argues that in light of the grounds raised in his petition, the circuit court erred in summarily dismissing his petition. We disagree.
"A petition for writ of habeas corpus is the proper method by which to test whether the State has correctly calculated the time an inmate must serve in prison. Breach v. State, 687 So.2d 1257 (Ala.Crim.App.1996); Swicegood v. State, 646 So.2d 158 (Ala.Crim.App. 1993). Therefore, the circuit court correctly treated Boykins's petition for writ of certiorari as a petition for writ of habeas corpus. However, Boykins's contention that he has a liberty interest in receiving IGT credit against his sentence is without merit. The State of Alabama gives inmates an opportunity to reduce their prison sentence through IGT deductions. See § 14-9-41, Ala. Code 1975. That statute provides, in pertinent part, that an inmate who has `faithfully observed the rules for a period of time ... may be entitled to earn a deduction' from his sentence. § 14-9-41(a). Accordingly, inmates are not entitled to receive, and thus do not have a liberty interest in receiving, IGT. See Coslett v. State, 697 So.2d 61 (Ala.Crim. App.1997); Parker v. State, 648 So.2d 653 (Ala.Crim.App.1994); Gullett v. State, 613 So.2d 400 (Ala.Crim.App. 1992).2 As we explained in Coslett:

"`The opportunity to earn "good time" is a privilege, not a right, in Alabama. Prisoners may earn higher classifications, and thus more "good

862 So.2d 589
time," through good behavior. A higher classification is based on a prisoner's trustworthiness, willingness and ability to work, and behavior while in prison. Accordingly, a favorable evaluation of a prisoner's conduct may result in a move to a higher classification so that he can earn more "good time" for each day served. Because Alabama's system is an incentive system, prison officials must have the authority to place prisoners who do not follow the rules or who fail to meet the requirements of a higher classification in lower classifications.'

"697 So.2d at 64.

"Because Boykins had no liberty interest in earning IGT, the circuit court correctly denied his petition for writ of habeas corpus. That court's judgment is therefore affirmed.

2"We note, however, that once an inmate actually earns IGT, it may not be taken away without due process. See, e.g., Ex parte Hawkins, 475 So.2d 489 (Ala.1985); Gowers v. State, 766 So.2d 986 (Ala.Crim.App.2000); Summerford v. State, 466 So.2d 182 (Ala.Crim.App. 1985). Therefore, while an inmate does not have a liberty interest in earning IGT, he does enjoy a liberty interest in retaining what IGT he has accrued."

Boykins asserts that the conclusion by the Court of Criminal Appeals that the circuit court correctly treated his petition for a writ of certiorari as a petition for habeas corpus was incorrect. The basis for that conclusion was the Court of Criminal Appeals' recognition that a petition for habeas corpus is the proper means for testing whether the State has correctly calculated the duration of an inmate's incarceration. Breach v. State, 687 So.2d 1257 (Ala.Crim.App.1996); Swicegood v. State, 646 So.2d 158 (Ala.Crim.App.1993). However, Boykins argues that his petition does not question whether the State correctly calculated his sentence; instead, he argues that his petition sought to review an administrative determination by the DOC as to whether he was entitled to earn IGT. Boykins argues that because his petition sought review of an administrative decision rather than the vindication of a "liberty interest," the Court of Criminal Appeals erred in determining that his petition was properly dismissed as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In his brief to this Court, Boykins relies on Cox v. State, 628 So.2d 1075 (Ala.Crim. App.1993), as authority supporting his argument that the trial court wrongfully treated his petition for a writ of certiorari as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In Cox, an inmate incarcerated in the Elmore Correctional Center challenged a trial court's dismissal of his petition for a writ of certiorari, which the court had treated as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The appellant, like Boykins, alleged that he was entitled to IGT and that the denial of IGT was contrary to the Legislature's intent in enacting Ala.Code 1975, §§ 14-9-20 through 14-9-25.2 The Court of Criminal Appeals determined that the trial court had erred in treating a petition for a writ of certiorari as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The court stated:

"In Cox's response to the state's motion to dismiss, Cox asserted that his petition is not a petition for writ of habeas corpus, but a petition [for a] writ

862 So.2d 590
of certiorari. As support, he cites Sellers v. State, 586 So.2d 994 (Ala.Cr.App. 1991), wherein the court affirmed the circuit court's denial of Seller's petition for writ of habeas corpus contesting the revocation of his parole by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. In so holding, the Sellers court stated the following

"`While the trial court gave no reason for denying the petition other than the fact that it did so on the pleadings, its denial was proper, because review of an action by the Board is not by a habeas corpus proceeding. Generally, habeas corpus is inappropriate as a remedy to review the actions of an administrative board or commission, such as the Board. The appropriate remedy is an appeal pursuant to the Alabama...

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19 practice notes
  • Collins v. Alabama Dept. of Corrections, CR-03-0285.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 28, 2004
    ...549 So.2d at 631. Therefore, the appellant has not shown that a liberty interest has been implicated in this case.1 In Ex parte Boykins, 862 So.2d 587 (Ala.2002), Boykins filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in which he asserted that DOC had improperly denied his request to receive inc......
  • Powell v. Lightner, Civil Action No. 14-00064-CG-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • April 20, 2015
    ...a different mechanism, a petition the circuit court for a writ of certiorari. See McConico, 893 So. 2d at 579-80 ("[I]n Ex parte Boykins, 862 So. 2d 587 (Ala. 2002), the Alabama Supreme Court...h[eld] that an inmate's challenge to an administrative rule addressing his right to earn incentiv......
  • Block v. Alabama Dept. of Corrections, CR-04-1417.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 26, 2005
    ...549 So.2d at 631. Therefore, the appellant has not shown that a liberty interest has been implicated in this case.1 In Ex parte Boykins, 862 So.2d 587 (Ala.2002), Boykins filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in which he asserted that DOC had improperly denied his request to receive inc......
  • Jacobs v. ALABAMA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 29, 2004
    ...549 So.2d at 631. Therefore, the appellant has not shown that a liberty interest has been implicated in this case.1 In Ex parte Boykins, 862 So.2d 587 (Ala.2002), Boykins filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in which he asserted that DOC had improperly denied his request to receive inc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Collins v. Alabama Dept. of Corrections, CR-03-0285.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 28, 2004
    ...549 So.2d at 631. Therefore, the appellant has not shown that a liberty interest has been implicated in this case.1 In Ex parte Boykins, 862 So.2d 587 (Ala.2002), Boykins filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in which he asserted that DOC had improperly denied his request to receive inc......
  • Powell v. Lightner, Civil Action No. 14-00064-CG-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • April 20, 2015
    ...a different mechanism, a petition the circuit court for a writ of certiorari. See McConico, 893 So. 2d at 579-80 ("[I]n Ex parte Boykins, 862 So. 2d 587 (Ala. 2002), the Alabama Supreme Court...h[eld] that an inmate's challenge to an administrative rule addressing his right to earn incentiv......
  • Block v. Alabama Dept. of Corrections, CR-04-1417.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • August 26, 2005
    ...549 So.2d at 631. Therefore, the appellant has not shown that a liberty interest has been implicated in this case.1 In Ex parte Boykins, 862 So.2d 587 (Ala.2002), Boykins filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in which he asserted that DOC had improperly denied his request to receive inc......
  • Jacobs v. ALABAMA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 29, 2004
    ...549 So.2d at 631. Therefore, the appellant has not shown that a liberty interest has been implicated in this case.1 In Ex parte Boykins, 862 So.2d 587 (Ala.2002), Boykins filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in which he asserted that DOC had improperly denied his request to receive inc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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