Because the post-conviction court denied an inmate’s petition for credit time without considering whether he had exhausted administrative remedies, the Indiana Court of Appeals sent the case back for reconsideration.
William H. Ellis was convicted of murder in 1995 and sentenced to 60 years in prison. He has completed several educational programs while in prison and sought the six months to one year of additional educational credit for the three programs to which he believed he was entitled. He contacted his caseworker, who told him that he had maxed out for any more time cuts per policy.
Then he submitted a classification appeal to the Indiana State Prison superintendent, which was denied. This January, Ellis filed his verified petition for credit time with the post-conviction court, claiming he had exhausted his administrative remedies. The court denied the petition without a hearing, finding the award of earned credit time is within the administrative responsibilities of the DOC.
Citing Burks-Bey v. State, 903 N.E.2d 1041, 1043-44 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), the appellate court reversed the denial of Ellis’ petition.
“Similarly, in this case the postconviction court denied Ellis’s petition for credit time without considering whether he had exhausted his administrative remedies. Therefore, we reverse the postconviction court’s denial of Ellis’s petition for credit time and remand so that the postconviction court can determine whether he has exhausted his administrative remedies,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “If Ellis establishes that he has exhausted his administrative remedies, then the postconviction court should address the merits of his request for credit time. If he fails to establish that he has exhausted his administrative remedies, then the postconviction court should dismiss the petition without prejudice.”
The case is William H. Ellis, Sr. v. State of Indiana, 02A03-1602-CR-376.