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Deffenbaugh v. Krueger

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

January 28, 2015

JEFF KRUEGER, Warden, Respondent.


JAMES E. SHADID, Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Petitioner, Sidney Lee Deffenbaugh's ("Deffenbaugh"), Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [1] is DENIED.

Factual and Procedural Background

Following his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Deffenbaugh was sentenced to 84 months' imprisonment. He has a projected release date of September 2, 2015, based on the amount of good conduct time that he has earned.

Deffenbaugh filed this Petition alleging that the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") has wrongfully awarded him only six months of placement in a Residential Reentry Center ("RRC") rather than the maximum 12 months allowed under the Second Chance Act. The Government has filed its response, and this Order follows.


A petition seeking habeas corpus relief is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 when a defendant is challenging the fact or duration of her confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 490, 93 S.Ct. 1827 (1973); Waletzki v. Keohane, 13 F.3d 1079, 1080 (7th Cir. 1994). The writ of habeas corpus may be granted where the defendant is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).

Initially, there is some disagreement among the district courts in the Seventh Circuit as to whether a habeas corpus petition is the proper vehicle to make a claim regarding halfway house placement. See Woolridge v. Cross, 2014 WL 4799893 (S.D.Ill. Sept. 26, 2014)(finding that claim must be brought pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971)); Stokes v. Cross, 2014 WL 503934, at *2 (S.D.Ill. Feb. 2014)(same); Moody v. Rios, 2013 WL 5236747 (C.D.Ill. Sept. 17, 2013)(finding that halfway house placement can be addressed under § 2241); Feazell v. Sherrod, 2-1- WL 5174355 (S.D.Ill.Dec. 16, 2010)(same); Pence v. Holikna, 2009 WL 3241874 (W.D.Wis. Sept. 29, 2009)(same).

Requests for quantum change in the level of custody, such as outright freedom, probation, etc., are typically brought as habeas corpus actions, while requests for a change in the circumstances of confinement are typically brought as civil rights actions. Graham v. Broglin, 922 F, 2d 379, 381 (7th Cir. 1995). "Put differently, if the prisoner is not seeking release, or release is not available as a remedy to the prisoner's claims, then his challenge can only concern the conditions of his confinement... not the fact of his confinement. As such, he may not proceed with a habeas petition.'" Stokes v. Cross, 2014 WL 503934, at *2 (S.D.Ill. Feb. 2014), citing Glaus v. Anderson, 408 F.3d 382, 388 (7th Cir. 2005).

Here, outright release is not an option. In fact, Deffenbaugh does not even request release. Rather, he asks that he be assigned to serve the remainder of his term at an RCC instead of the six months recommended by the BOP. This would appear to be more like the challenges to requests for work release, transfer between prisons, or changes in housing quarters that have been held to constitute civil rights actions as opposed to habeas corpus proceedings. Pischke v. Litscher, 178 F.3d 497, 499 (7th Cir. 1999); Falcon v. U.S. BOP, 52 F.3d 137, 138 (7th Cir. 1995); Adams v. Beldsoe, 173 Fed.Appx. 483, 484 (7th Cir. 2006). However, assuming arguendo that Deffenbaugh may proceed under § 2241 and that the Court has jurisdiction to consider his petition, he is still not entitled to the relief sought.

Under the Second Chance Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c), the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") has the authority to place inmates in community confinement facilities during the final portion of their sentences for up to 12 months. Specifically:

The Director of the Bureau of Prisons shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that a prisoner serving a term of imprisonment spends a portion of the final months of that term (not to exceed 12 months), under conditions that will afford that prisoner a reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for the reentry of that prisoner into the community. Such conditions may include a community correctional facility.

Id. Deffenbaugh contends that the BOP is violating § 3624(c) by authorizing only a six month placement in a halfway house, claiming that he is entitled to the full 12 months as a result of his health/medical issues and lack of financial or familial support to assist him with reintegration.

However, Deffenbaugh's interpretation of the Second Chance Act is simply incorrect. The language of the statute clearly establishes that inmates are not entitled to the full 12 months of placement in a halfway house. Section 3624(c) requires only that "to the extent practicable, " the BOP must allow an inmate to spend "a portion of the final months" of his term under conditions that will allow him to prepare and adjust for reentry into the community. Id . The language is discretionary, and there is simply no guarantee to placement for the maximum amount of time available. See also, Olim v. Waukinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245 (1983)(holding ...

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