Judges order good-time credit reinstated

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The head inmate law clerk at an Indiana correctional facility is entitled to the 30 days of good-time credit that the prison revoked after finding he used the library’s computers without authorization. But the inmate was just following orders from prison library staff, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals pointed out.

As head inmate law clerk at the Putnamville Correctional Facility, Eric Grandberry assisted other inmates who needed support with problems arising from their custody. One library staff member asked him to download and fill out a petition to stop child support; another staff employee asked him to get and fill out forms that her daughter could use to apply for a divorce. Grandberry fulfilled those requests.

Prison officials accused him of unauthorized alteration, use or possession of any electronic device, moved him to solitary confinement and revoked 30 days of his good-time credits.

The 7th Circuit noted that the record does not contain evidence that Grandberry used the library’s computers without authorization. The Indiana Department of Correction maintains that Grandberry should not have followed the staff’s directives, which the judges found surprising.

“Prisons regularly contend that prisoners must obey all orders. … It would ill serve the interests of the Indiana Department of Correction to tell prisoners (as the Department’s appellate brief insists) that they are not only entitled but also required to disobey orders that should not have been given. In such a regime prisoners undoubtedly would become creative in finding justifications for disobedience. Far better to have a norm of compliance; then staff members, rather than the prisoners, get to decide in the first instance which orders are proper and must be followed. If the library staff gave Grandberry improper orders, the penalty should fall on the staff members,” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in Eric Grandberry v. Brian Smith, superintendent, Plainfield Correctional Facility, 12-2081.

The 7th Circuit remanded with instructions to issue a writ of habeas corpus restoring the good-time credits.


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  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

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  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."