Facts: Petitioner Jonathan Gentry, a prisoner awaiting execution in the Washington State Penitentiary, filed a personal restraint petition in the Supreme Court of Washington, asserting that his transfer to solitary confinement due to the respondent state of Washington’s closure of the special housing unit in which he had previously been housed violated Article I §9 of the United States Constitution’s prohibition against ex post facto laws insofar as it increased the severity of his punishment beyond that contemplated by the laws and regulations governing the housing of death row inmates in effect at the time of his sentencing.
Question(s): Does Gentry have a liberty interest in his continued housing in the special housing unit?
Conclusion: Chief Justice Madsen’s opinion for the Court dismissed Gentry’s petition, ruling that as solitary confinement was contemplated by the laws and regulations governing the housing of death row inmates in effect at the time of Gentry’s sentencing and as Gentry’s transfer from solitary confinement to the special housing unit was contingent upon his successful participation in a good behavior incentive program, which does not create a liberty interest in special housing and related privileges, the state could close the special housing unit for budgetary reasons without violating the prohibition against ex post facto laws.
Docket No. 84039-3
Petitioner: Jonathan Gentry
(Counsel: Timothy Kent Ford and Rita Joan Griffith)
Respondent: State of Washington
(Counsel: Paul Douglas Weisser and Sara J. Di Vittorio)
Decided: Thursday, December 30th, 2010
Prevailing Party: State of Washington (Respondent)
Court: Madsen1 Court (2010-2011)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.