United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER
ADELMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Williams brings this action for damages under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against employees of the Wisconsin Department of
Corrections. He alleges that the defendants failed to
promptly correct an error relating to his criminal sentence
that resulted in the extension of his extended supervision
past the statutory maximum. The plaintiff was in jail on a
supervision hold when one of the defendants noticed the
error, and he spent 36 days in jail before the error was
corrected and he was released. The plaintiff alleges that the
defendants acted with deliberate indifference in failing to
correct the error in his sentence faster than they did, and
that therefore they violated the Cruel and Unusual
Punishments Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Before me now is
the defendants' motion for summary judgment and the
plaintiff's motion for leave to amend her complaint to
add a new defendant, Rita Haroski.
2004, the Milwaukee County Circuit Court entered a judgment
convicting Williams of two counts of attempted armed robbery
with threat of force and a third count of substantial battery
with intent to cause bodily harm. On each of the attempted
armed robbery counts, the court sentenced the plaintiff to
five years' imprisonment and 10 years' extended
supervision. On the battery count, the court sentenced the
plaintiff to 18 months' imprisonment and 24 months'
extended supervision. All sentences were to run concurrently.
March 11, 2004, staff members in the records department of
Dodge Correctional Institution (who are not defendants here)
calculated the plaintiff's sentence. They determined that
his “max discharge date” was April 19, 2018. Def.
Prop. Finding of Fact (“PFOF”) ¶
In 2008, Williams was released from prison and began serving
the extended-supervision component of his sentence. In March
2014, defendant Susan Wundrow became Williams' probation
Sunday, May 7, 2017, Williams was arrested and taken into
custody after a woman claimed he battered her. Williams also
admitted to snorting cocaine and was found with drug
paraphernalia. On the following Monday, Wundrow learned of
the arrest. A day later, her supervisor placed a
“supervision hold” on Williams, which had the
effect of keeping him in jail pending a revocation decision.
Def. PFOF ¶ 19. That same day, May 9, 2017, Wundrow sent
an email to the general mailbox for the records department at
Dodge Correctional Institution for the purpose of finding out
how much time was left on Williams' sentence. She
intended to use this information to guide her revocation
email to the records department attached a form known as
DOC-416. Agents regularly use this form when requesting
sentence computations from the records department. The agent
completes the top half of the form. The records department
enters the sentence computation on the bottom half of the
form and returns it to the agent. The typical timeline from
when a DOC-416 form is emailed to the records department to
when it is completed and returned to the agent is 1-2 weeks.
9, 2017, defendant Amber Devries (formerly known as Amber
Parenteau) received Wundrow's email and was assigned to
perform the sentence computation. Prior to that date, Devries
was not involved with Williams' case; she was not the
records employee who calculated Williams' max-discharge
date in 2004. When she received the email, she did not know
that Williams was on a probation hold.
12, 2017, Devries completed the sentence computation for
Williams. In the course of doing so, she noticed that the
court's judgment of conviction contained an error. In
counts 1 and 2, Williams was convicted of attempted armed
robbery. Under Wisconsin law, when a person is convicted of
an attempted crime, the maximum term of extended supervision
is one-half the maximum term for the completed crime.
See Wis. Stat. 939.32(1m)(b). Williams'
armed-robbery conviction was a Class C felony. The maximum
term of extended supervision for a completed Class C felony
is 15 years. See Wis. Stat. § 973.01(2)(d)2.
Thus, the maximum term of extended supervision to which the
court could have sentenced Williams on each of counts 1 and 2
was 7.5 years. However, the court actually sentenced him to
10 years' extended supervision on each count, thus
creating an excessive sentence.
Devries finished her sentence computation, she sent it to the
“Central Records Office” for “proofing,
” as she was required to do under the department's
procedures. Def. PFOF ¶ 30. The proofing process usually
takes a week to complete. Here, proofing was complete on May
17, 2017, and the proofer determined that Devries'
computations were correct.
the Department of Corrections notices a possible sentencing
error, it notifies the sentencing court. Def. PFOF ¶ 31.
On May 18, 2017, Devries sent a letter to the Milwaukee
County Circuit Court notifying it that the records department
believed the court had made a mistake in sentencing Williams
to 10-year terms of extended supervision on the attempted
armed robbery counts. ECF No. 10-1 at p. 1 of 24. After she
sent this letter, Devries had no further involvement in
on May 15, 2017, Wundrow and her supervisor decided that they
would not revoke Williams' extended supervision based on
his recent arrest. Instead, they planned to send him to a
halfway house and see that he received mental-health
treatment and treatment for alcohol abuse. However, because a
bed at the halfway house was not immediately available,
Williams continued to be confined at the jail.
22, 2017, the Milwaukee County Circuit Court entered an order
commuting Williams' terms of extended supervision to 7.5
years. The court agreed that the original terms of 10 years
exceeded the amounts allowed under the Wisconsin Statutes. On
May 24, 2017, the court entered an amended judgment of
conviction reflecting the reduced terms.
amended judgment of conviction does not specify a new release
date; it simply amends the sentence. When the Department of
Corrections receives an amended judgment, it computes a new
sentence and identifies a new release date. There is
generally a delay of a couple of weeks between when the court
enters the judgment and when the Department of Corrections
routes it to an employee who performs the new sentence
calculation. Def. PFOF ¶¶ 64-65. The delay ...