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Ayala v. Livingston

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division

September 14, 2017

JESUS AYALA
v.
BRAD LIVINGSTON, ET AL. CIVIL ACTION No. 6:16cv1144

          MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE AND ENTERING FINAL JUDGMENT

          Ron Clark, United States District Judge

         The Plaintiff Jesus Ayala, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 complaining of alleged violations of his constitutional rights. This Court referred the case to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) and (3) and the Amended Order for the Adoption of Local Rules for the Assignment of Duties to United States Magistrate Judges.

         I. Background

         Ayala complains that Texas does not pay wages to state prisoners, but provides a “good time/ work time” compensation plan. However, he asserts that the compensation provided under this plan cannot be used to purchase goods or services, nor can it be used to shorten a prisoner's sentence. When a prisoner is released to parole or mandatory supervision, he must sign a waiver of all rights and interest in any and all accrued good time and work time. State law permits the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to not restore good time or work time for most parole or mandatory supervision violators.

         Ayala argues that this system of compensation violates 18 U.S.C. 1589, prohibiting the obtaining of labor or services of a person by means of harm or threats or harm, as well as Article I, §10 of the Constitution, prohibiting states from creating a currency. He complains that he was not sentenced to slavery or involuntary servitude as part of his sentence, and forcing him to work impermissibly enhances his sentence. Other punishments for refusing to work may include transfers to distant prison units, loss of previously accrued privileges or good time, or classification to higher levels of confinement.

         Ayala argues that accumulating two and a half years of calendar time and two and a half years of good time should discharge a sentence. Otherwise, because both parole and mandatory supervision are discretionary, good time and work time credits have no value. He claims Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 6166x and 6166x-1, as well as Texas Gov. Code art. 501.016, provide that work time credits reduce the term of a sentence. Thus, he contends that the failure to release a prisoner when his sentence expires through the operation of flat time plus good time is a double jeopardy violation.

         For relief, Ayala asks that the Defendants be ordered to stop obtaining prisoner labor by force, coercion, or threats unless upon express written and voluntary consent to such labor or services. He further requested that all prisoners be compensated for any and all labor or services through the placement of money in each prisoner's inmate trust account fund and that prisoners be compensated for good time or work time which has been taken away.

         II. The Report of the Magistrate Judge

         After review of the pleadings, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report recommending that the lawsuit be dismissed as frivolous or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Magistrate Judge stated that requiring prisoners to work without compensation does not violate the Constitution or amount to slavery or involuntary servitude. The Magistrate Judge further observed that under Texas law, good time and work time are the same, and serve only to advance eligibility for release on parole or mandatory supervision. Although Ayala cites Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 6166-x, the Magistrate Judge stated that this statute was repealed in 1989.

         Ayala is serving multiple life sentences for aggravated sexual assault as well as various other offenses including indecency with a child, sexual performance by a child, and possession of child pornography. These offenses render him ineligible for release on mandatory supervision and his parole eligibility is calculated without regard to good time or work time, which the Magistrate Judge noted are the same; work time is simply good time which is given for working. He is eligible for release on parole in 2032. The Magistrate Judge stated that the fact Ayala's parole eligibility is calculated without consideration of good time is not a constitutional violation.

         The fact Ayala is not eligible for release on mandatory supervision means that he does not have a liberty interest in his good time credits. Thus, the Magistrate Judge determined that the fact Ayala may have lost such credits through the disciplinary process or by other means did not implicate any constitutionally protected liberty interests.

         Because good time and work time do not reduce the length of a sentence, the Magistrate Judge determined that Ayala failed to show a double jeopardy violation. Ayala is not being held past his sentence expiration date because his life sentences plainly have not expired.

         The Magistrate Judge also stated that the Texas system of good time and work time does not create a “currency” in violation of Article I, §10 of the Constitution and that the possibility a prisoner may be transferred for refusing to work, separating him from his family and friends, is not a constitutional violation.

         III. ...


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