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Durance v. Cross

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 27, 2014

BOBETTA DURANCE, Petitioner,
v.
JAMES N. CROSS, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CLIFFORD J. PROUD, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner Bobetta Durance, an inmate in the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging the termination of her eligibility for early release after she was expelled from the BOP's Residential Drug Abuse Program ("RDAP"). For the reasons set forth below, the Petition is denied.

BACKGROUND

A. The Residential Drug Abuse Program & Early Release

RDAP is an intensive drug treatment program for federal inmates with documented substance abuse problems. See 28 C.F.R. § 550.53; (DOC. 11-4, p. 23). The RDAP consists of three components, 28 C.F.R. § 550.53, but only the first component-the unit-based component-is relevant to the instant matter. The unit-based component requires at least 500 hours of treatment over a period of at least six months. 28 C.F.R. § 550.53(a)(1); (DOC. 11-4, p. 23). Inmates participating in the program are housed in a unit set apart from the general prison population and reserved for drug treatment. 28 C.F.R. § 550.53(a)(1); (DOC. 11-4, p. 25). An inmate can be removed from the RDAP for various reasons, including "disruptive behavior related to the program or unsatisfactory progress in treatment." 28 C.F.R. § 550.53(g) (DOC. 11-5, p. 1). On the other hand, if an inmate "successfully complet[es]" the RDAP, they can receive a sentence reduction of up to 12 months. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B); 28 C.F.R. §§ 550.54(a)(1)(iv), 550.55(a)(2).

B. Relevant Factual History

Bobetta Durance was sentenced on October 25, 2010 to 65 months imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (Doc. 11-2). The sentencing court recommended that she participate in the RDAP while in prison (Doc. 11-2), and she was placed at Greenville in order to do so. Before Durance began the program, the BOP determined that she would be eligible for a sentence reduction of up to one year if she successfully completed the RDAP (Doc. 11-3, pp. 10-11).

Durance began the RDAP in August 2011 (Doc. 11-3, p. 13). The first phase of the RDAP generally takes nine to twelve months to complete (Doc. 11-3, p. 43; Doc. 11-4, p. 23). However, by March 2013, after nineteen months in the first phase, Durance still had not demonstrated consistent and satisfactory progress and she was expelled from the program (Doc. 11-3, pp. 39, 41). Because Durance did not complete the entire program, her eligibility for early release was terminated (Doc. 11-3, p. 42).

DISCUSSION

After exhausting her administrative remedies, Durance filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1). She is seeking an order from the Court directing the BOP to reinstate her eligibility for early release (Doc. 1-1). According to Durance, she is still eligible for early release despite her expulsion from the RDAP because she participated in the program for nineteen months and completed 1, 096 hours of treatment (Doc. 1-1).

In response to Durance's petition, Respondent contends that a habeas action is not the proper mechanism for Durance to bring her claims, but even if it were, Durance's claims are meritless (Doc. 11). Respondent is correct on both points.

A. Durance's Claim is Not Properly Raised Under § 2241

A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is the proper vehicle for a prisoner's claims if the prisoner is challenging the fact or duration of his confinement, and seeking an immediate or speedier release. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973); Falcon v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 52 F.3d 137, 138 (7th Cir. 1995) ("Typically the writ of habeas corpus is used to completely free an inmate from unlawful custody.")

Here, if Durance were to prevail, the only relief she could obtain is an order directing the BOP to reconsider her for early release, not one requiring the BOP to grant it. Since victory would not entitle Durance to an immediate or speedier release, habeas corpus is not the proper vehicle for her claims. Richmond v. Scibana, 387 F.3d 602, 605 (7th Cir. 2004) ("The difference between a claim of entitlement to be released, and ...


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