ANCHORAGE (AP) — The Alaska Supreme Court said the Department of Corrections violated a prisoner’s rights when it sentenced him to 20 days of segregation.
The court ruled Friday that corrections officials should have granted convicted killer Richard “Bart” DeRemer’s requests during a disciplinary hearing, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
DeRemer is serving 134-year sentence for murder, arson, burglary and tampering with evidence.
He was at a prison in Colorado in 2010 when corrections officers conducting a random search found two faded, red pills in a paper cup inside a locker in his cell.
DeRemer, 43, was accused of having two pills he shouldn’t have had. He asked to see the evidence against him and call a witness at a hearing.
But a hearing officer denied the requests, found DeRemer guilty of “hoarding pills” and sentenced him to 20 days of segregation.
The court said Friday that the denial amounted to a violation of the DeRemer’s right to due process. The court ordered DeRemer’s punishment to be vacated.
The Department of Corrections first undermined DeRemer’s ability to present a defense by denying him all his requested evidence, the court said. The department could have made up for its mistake by allowing DeRemer to call a witness, it said. Instead, the department compounded the problem with its “mechanical application” of the law, the court said.
The Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Punitive segregation means a prisoner is not allowed to attend educational programs, have visitors and make phone calls. A prisoner may not have reading material other than religious, educational or legal material. Eating in the communal dining area is prohibited, and a prisoner is not allowed any recreation except one hour of exercise outside the cell.
DeRemer is currently serving his sentence at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward. His estimated release date is 2094, depending on when he is eligible for parole.