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MyraB, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 371
Experience:  I have over 20 years experience in criminal law and civil litigation from pre-trial practice to appeal.
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For MyraB: My son is in county jail in Oklahoma pending post

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For MyraB: My son is in county jail in Oklahoma pending post convictin relief results. He has one year sentence. He was assigned some work immediately in the jail which gives him two days credit for every one day served.

Recently I have found there is another law for persons doing their time in county jails and that is they should receive 5 day credit for every four days of time served for good behavior.

I have also found an attorney general official opinion that an inmate should receive both of those credits.

My son asked a couple of months ago about the 5 for 4 credit and was told by someone in jail administration that a person could only get one or the other, the 2 days credit for each day served for doing maintenance work or the 5 for 4 for good behavior but not both.

Since we have now found the attorney general opinion on this he is thinking of filing a greivance bringing up the point that the attorney general says he should get both credits. This would cut his time from 6 months to 4.8 months assuming nothing comes of the post conviction relief that was filed 2.5 months ago. Can you see any problem with him filing this greivance?
Hello and thank you for your question.

I do not see any problem with filing a grievance based on the calculation of time to be served. Although it is generally up to the prison administration to determine credits, mistakes are made and a person can end up erroneously serving time he will never get back. If you have an opinion stating that a person is entitled to both credits, you should not hesitate to bring it to the attention of prison officials.

Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If the defendant files a grievance based on the Oklahoma attorney general's 1980 official opinion, which has not been superceded, what can the defendant do if the jail administrator still says he cannot get that 5 day credit for every 4 days served because it is the sheriff's option?


I have heard he can file a writ of habeus corpus for unlawful imprisonment if he is still in jail after he lawfully should have been released. Is that true?


Can he also file a civil law suit against the jail?

Thank you for your response.

The required credits with link to the corresponding OK statute can be found in Chapter 11 of the County Sheriff's Handbook available here There are at least two credits to which your son would be entitled, see pages 11-11 and 11-12, which are the two credits you mentioned in your original question.

Work credit: Prisoners employed must be given a credit of two days on a jail sentence for each day worked. The County Sheriff is authorized to order the credit be given to the prisoner on the records of the court where the conviction of the prisoner is filed. Every county prisoner, whether required to work on the public highways or merely confined in the county jail, must receive credit on fines and costs of $1.00 for each day confined in prison, or working; provided that those prisoners performing the most efficient work and making the best prisoners, must be entitled to an additional credit of one day for every five days of work, the guard or custodian of the county jail to determine at the end of each five days of the imprisonment whether or not the prisoner is entitled to the credit, and to make a record of the decision and notify the prisoner. This last credit of the additional day for every five worked seems to be the only one that is discretionary, and it is in addition to the required 2 days of credit for every 1 worked.

The good behavior credit of 5 days credit for every 4 served is also required provided the prisoner has obeyed the rules and regulations of the county jail in a satisfactory manner.

There is no indication in the handbook or statutes that these are alternate credits and the Sheriff has no discretion to deny the credits other than on the grounds that the prisoner is not qualified to receive them under the terms of the statute.

To file a federal habeas corpus petition, the prisoner must first exhaust all available administrative and state court remedies. A prison or prison system's regulations define the steps a prisoner must take to properly exhaust administrative remedies and a prisoner may only exhaust by following all of the steps laid out therein. Generally, there is an opportunity to appeal to the court. If not, and the person becomes illegally detained - meaning the sentence has gone on longer than it should under the proper calculations - he could file a motion for state habeas corpus relief in the District Court of the county where petitioner is restrained. See Rule 10.6 Rules of Court of Criminal Appeals

It is unlikely he could file a civil lawsuit to recover damages based on the negligent calculation of the credits, as government officials would receive qualified immunity for such actions done while in the performance of their duties.

Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions.
Hello again. Just wanted to add to my last answer that in the particular scenario where earned credits have not been properly awarded that a Writ of Mandamus filed with the state District Court may be more appropriate than habeas corpus relief. See Canady v. Reynolds, available here,37

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for the link to county sheriff handbook. That says exactly what the attorney generals opinion says. So there is no way they can deny that the defendant has the 5 for 4 days for good behavior coming if brought to their attention. So in the grievance would it be best to use both of the authorities, ie the attorney general opinion and the county sheriff handbook or would the handbook reference be sufficient?


Would it also be possible to file a complaint with the attorney general since they would be directly violating that office's official opinion? Although not a criminal offense (I don't think) but the sheriff would still be violating the law.


Another question: Is there any way a judge can say that a inmate cannot earn any credits?

You can rely on the County Sheriff Handbook, the statutes on which the handbook is based and the Attorney General Opinion. The statutes would carry the most weight as they are primary directives. The Handbook is useful because it is recent and indicates the official interpretation of the statutes that are used consistently throughout the counties, as is the Attorney General advisory opinion, so that all similarly situated prisoners are given the same credits.

You can report the apparent violation of the failure or refusal to grant earned credits to the Attorney General.

No, a judge cannot say that an inmate cannot earn any credits. Prison officials have a duty to administer earned credits as directed by the Legislature. The court does not get involved in earned credits other than to determine whether prison officials are properly following the law, after the exhaustion of available administrative remedies.

Let me know if you need any further information.
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