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Greenfield v. Scafati

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
Dec 8, 1967
277 F. Supp. 644 (D. Mass. 1967)

Summary

In Greenfield v. Scafati, supra, we affirmed the judgment of a three-judge District Court which found an ex post facto violation in the application of a statute denying any gain time for the first six months after parole revocation to an inmate whose crime occurred before the statute's enactment.

Summary of this case from Weaver v. Graham

Opinion

Civ. A. No. 67-742-G.

December 8, 1967.

Michael R. Pizziferri, Boston, Mass., for plaintiff.

Willie J. Davis, Asst. Atty. Gen., Boston, Mass., for defendants.

ALDRICH, Circuit Judge, and CAFFREY and GARRITY, District Judges.


Petitioner, a Massachusetts prisoner, seeks an injunction against the enforcement of a sentence under a state statute, Mass.Gen. Laws, ch. 127, § 129, as amended by Mass. Acts of 1965, ch. 884, on the ground that the amendment is unconstitutional as an ex post facto law. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2281 a three-judge district court was convened to consider the merits of his contention. We delayed our hearing briefly until a proceeding brought by petitioner in the state court has been determined adversely by a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. The single justice denied bail. We agree with petitioner that we should delay no further. See Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 88 S.Ct. 391, 19 L.Ed.2d 444 (Dec. 5, 1967). Our first step was to grant bail, upon a stipulation that this release shall not affect the number of days eventually to be served by petitioner if he fails herein.

We also agree with petitioner that the decision of the single justice accorded with the opinion of the full bench in a previous case, Allen v. Massachusetts Parole Board, Mass. 1967, 226 N.E.2d 257, except that Allen was a decision which granted the writ and did not resolve a constitutional issue.

In 1962 petitioner was sentenced to a 5-7 year term by the Massachusetts Superior Court. Under section 129 of chapter 127 as then existing he was entitled to earn "good-conduct" deductions from the sentence imposed throughout the period of his incarceration. The Massachusetts practice, as testified to before us, is to compute at the time a prisoner commences service of sentence the total deductions which he may so earn and to deduct these from the maximum sentence, thus establishing at the outset a tentative date of release. Should the prisoner, through misbehavior, fail to earn any of the time already deducted, it is "forfeited" by an appropriate extension of the tentative date of release. Broad provision for forfeiture for misconduct during confinement is contained in the statute, but prior to ch. 884 no forfeiture was provided for violation of parole. Gildea v. Commissioner of Correction, 1957, 336 Mass. 48, 142 N.E.2d 400. The availability of good conduct deductions is considered an essential element of the sentence. Murphy v. Commonwealth, 1899, 172 Mass. 264, 52 N.E. 505, 43 L.R.A. 154; Gildea v. Commissioner of Correction, supra.

By ch. 884 of the Acts of 1965 there was added to section 129 the following qualification:

"A prisoner released on parole by the parole board, who has failed to observe all the rules of his parole and has been returned to a correctional institution for the violation of his parole, shall not receive deductions described in this section for any of the first six months after he is returned to the correctional institution."

Apparently recognizing that there might be objections to retrospective application, the legislature made the provision prospective to the extent that it was not to apply to persons currently on parole. It did, otherwise, apply to persons already under sentence. Petitioner, though sentenced before, was paroled after the amendment took effect, and upon his violation of parole and return to prison the statute was invoked. Consequently, whereas under the old statute it is conceded that petitioner, whose conduct since reincarceration has been good, would have been entitled to release prior to the bringing of this action, under the ch. 884 six months' disqualification his release is considerably delayed. He contends that application of ch. 884 to him is constitutionally impermissible.

At the hearing before us a controversy developed as to how long, under the rule announced in the final paragraph of Allen, fn. 1, supra, the delay should be. We need not consider this question.

The Supreme Court has long construed Article I, section 10 of the Constitution to forbid the imposition of a sentence, by virtue of a change in the law, greater than the maximum sentence permitted at the date of the offense. Calder v. Bull, 1798, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 386, 1 L.Ed. 648; Cummings v. State of Missouri, 1866, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 277, 18 L.Ed. 356; Lindsey v. State of Washington, 1937, 301 U.S. 397, 57 S.Ct. 797, 81 L.Ed. 1182. In fact, the Court has declared that "any law which was passed after the commission of the offense for which the party is being tried * * * which alters the situation of the accused to his disadvantage; * * *" is invalid as ex post facto. In re Medley, 1890, 134 U.S. 160, 171, 10 S.Ct. 384, 387, 33 L.Ed. 835; cf. Rooney v. State of North Dakota, 1905, 196 U.S. 319, 25 S.Ct. 264, 49 L.Ed. 494. Accordingly, statutory reduction, after incarceration, of the amount of good conduct allowance which can be earned has been invalidated. Murphy v. Commonwealth, supra. "Depriving one of time off to which he was justly entitled as a practical matter results in extending his sentence and increasing his punishment." Lembersky v. Parole Board, 1955, 332 Mass. 290, 294, 124 N.E.2d 521, 524. Since, concededly, the application of ch. 884 to petitioner has forever deprived him of the monthly allowances achievable in the first six months of his reconfinement, the question is whether this increase in sentence is constitutional because it was attached to parole.

The application of ch. 884 to persons sentenced for a crime committed after its effective date could raise no question. The possibility of a partial forfeiture of the right to earn deductions would have been contemplated in the sentence, and would therefore be within the maximum term provided for. Van Buskirk v. Wilkinson, 9 Cir., 1954, 216 F.2d 735; Woods v. Steiner, D.Md., 1962, 207 F. Supp. 945, 949-950. The Commonwealth urges that it is also appropriate to apply the statute to one paroled after its enactment because acceptance of parole is a voluntary act. In other words, if a prisoner did not want to risk the penalty for violation, he need not take the parole offered. See Woods v. Steiner, supra, at 951.

The Commonwealth's argument must presuppose that parole is not like the good conduct deduction, but may be lawfully withdrawn altogether. It is true that parole is commonly spoken of as a matter of grace, and not of right. E.g., Cox v. Maxwell, 6 Cir., 1966, 366 F.2d 765; Curtis v. Bennett, 8 Cir., 1965, 351 F.2d 931; Woods v. Steiner, supra. It would be more accurate, however, to say that a prisoner's entitlement to parole lies in the discretion of the parole board. It would not follow because a prisoner might not receive parole that it would not be an unlawful ex post facto burden to deprive him altogether of the right to be found qualified. Rather, we see no distinction between depriving a prisoner of the right to earn good conduct deductions and the right to qualify for, and hence earn, parole. Each, to quote In re Medley, supra, materially "alters the situation of the accused to his disadvantage." State ex rel. Woodward v. Board of Parole, 1924, 155 La. 699, 99 So. 534.

The same must be said as between providing unqualified parole and parole cum onere, i.e., subject to ch. 884. The difference between no penalty, other than a termination of the parole, and a substantial increase in imprisonment for violation, is far from inconsequential. To effect this by legislation enacted after the offense for which sentence was imposed cannot be constitutionally supported.

Petitioner is entitled to an order enjoining the forfeiture or suspension of good conduct deductions as provided for by Mass. Acts of 1965, ch. 884, and requiring his present discharge.


Summaries of

Greenfield v. Scafati

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
Dec 8, 1967
277 F. Supp. 644 (D. Mass. 1967)

In Greenfield v. Scafati, supra, we affirmed the judgment of a three-judge District Court which found an ex post facto violation in the application of a statute denying any gain time for the first six months after parole revocation to an inmate whose crime occurred before the statute's enactment.

Summary of this case from Weaver v. Graham

In Greenfield, a defendant who was incarcerated following revocation of his parole challenged a statute that prohibited any state parole violator from receiving good-conduct credits during his first six months in custody following [parole] revocation.

Summary of this case from Hinojosa v. Davey

In Greenfield, a Massachusetts man was sentenced to prison at a time when Massachusetts law did not provide for the forfeiture of good-time credits for parole violations.

Summary of this case from Price v. Warden Forcht Wade Corr. Ctr.

In Greenfield v. Scafati, 277 F. Supp. 644 (D.Mass. 1967) (three-judge court), aff'd mem., 390 U.S. 713, 88 S.Ct. 1409, 20 L.Ed.2d 250 (1968), the court considered whether a state violated the ex post facto ban when it applied to a prisoner a law passed after the prisoner had been incarcerated but before he had been paroled.

Summary of this case from Williams v. Lee

In Greenfield, a defendant who was incarcerated following revocation of his parole challenged a statute that prohibited any state parole violator from receiving good-conduct credits during his first six months in custody following revocation.

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Paskow

stating that, had the law authorizing partial forfeiture of eligibility for parole been in effect at the time of the defendant's original crime, it "would have been contemplated in the sentence, and would therefore be within the maximum term provided for"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Paskow

In Greenfield v. Scafati, 277 F. Supp. 644 (D.Mass. 1967) (3-judge court), affirmed, 390 U.S. 713, 88 S.Ct. 1409, 20 L.Ed.2d 250, legislation that made "good conduct deductions" forfeit if parole conditions were violated could only be constitutionally applied to prisoners whose crimes were committed after the statute was enacted.

Summary of this case from Welsh v. Mizell

In Greenfield, the defendant, who was incarcerated after having his parole revoked, challenged a statute that prohibited any state parole violator from receiving good-conduct credits during his six first months in custody following the revocation.

Summary of this case from Cormack v. Warden

In Greenfield, a parole violator lost the right to earn good conduct credits during his first six months back in prison under a statute enacted after he committed his original crime but before he violated parole.

Summary of this case from John L. v. Superior Court

In Greenfield, the state Legislature amended a statute regulating "good conduct" deductions from sentences, making violation of parole grounds for forfeiture of good conduct deductions. It also decided to apply the amended statute to persons, such as the petitioner, who were already under sentence.

Summary of this case from In re Ramirez

In Greenfield v. Scafati, 277 F. Supp. 644, aff'd 390 U.S. 713, 88 S.Ct. 1409, 20 L.Ed.2d 250 (1967), a three-judge United States District Court enjoined enforcement against Petitioner of a Massachusetts statute which denied a prisoner the opportunity to earn "good conduct" deductions for the first six months after his return to prison for violation of his parole.

Summary of this case from Still v. State

In Greenfield, a three judge court struck down as ex post facto a statutory provision triggered by an act of misconduct. Under this provision, the right to earn good time credits was "forfeited" for six months following a parole violation.

Summary of this case from In re Paez

In Greenfield v. Scafati (D.Mass. 1967) 277 F. Supp. 644 (a three-judge panel), affirmed, 390 U.S. 713 [20 L.Ed.2d 250, 88 S.Ct. 1409], the court held that legislation which made "good conduct credits" forfeit if parole conditions were violated could be constitutionally applied only to prisoners whose crimes were committed after the statute was enacted.

Summary of this case from In re Seabock
Case details for

Greenfield v. Scafati

Case Details

Full title:Ronald GREENFIELD, Petitioner, v. Palmer C. SCAFATI, Superintendent…

Court:United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

Date published: Dec 8, 1967

Citations

277 F. Supp. 644 (D. Mass. 1967)

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