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Davis v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

May 19, 2017

JUSTIN DAVIS, # 12415-029, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES, Respondent.


          HERNDON, District Judge:

         Petitioner Justin Davis, an inmate who is currently incarcerated in Marion USP, brings this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, in order to request that this Court recommend that he receive up to twelve months in a Residential Re-Entry Center (“RRC”) under the Second Chance Act, or grant him what RRC time this Court deems appropriate. (Doc. 1). This matter is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in United States District Courts. Rule 4 provides that upon preliminary consideration by the district court judge, “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner.” Rule 1(b) of those Rules gives this Court the authority to apply the rules to other habeas corpus cases. After carefully reviewing the Petition in the present case, the Court concludes that Petitioner is not entitled to relief, and the case shall be DISMISSED.


         Petitioner provides little factual background in his Petition. He notes that he was sentenced to a term of 77 months in prison and 4 years supervised release in Case No. 1:12-cr-00095-LRR-1, which was heard in the Northern District of Iowa and decided May 29, 2013. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Petitioner also claims he has fulfilled all of the recommendations of the sentencing court and the Honorable Judge Linda R. Reade. (Doc. 1, p. 2). He claims he is participating in the Residential Drug Abuse Program (“RDAP”). Id. Petitioner also attached an education transcript and disciplinary transcript to his Petition, for mitigation purposes. (Doc. 1, pp. 2, 5-6). Petitioner notes in his Petition that many inmates that complete RDAP have their sentence reduced by 12 months. (Doc. 1, p. 2). He also states that he will not receive the reduction, which is why he is seeking the Second Chance Act. Id. Petitioner is due for release on August 14, 2018. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Petitioner requests “that this Court recommend the Second Chance Act . . . (18 U.S.C. § 3624) [which] allows inmates to receive up to 12 months in RRC, instead of the 10% rule under 18 U.S.C. § 3621” or, in the alternative, “grant him what RRC time this Court deems appropriate.” (Doc. 1, p. 2).


         A petition seeking habeas corpus relief is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 when a prisoner is challenging the fact or duration of his confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 490 (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, 2010 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, Petitioner does not even request release. Rather, he asks that he be assigned to serve twelve months of his term at an RRC, or that this Court recommend he be assigned accordingly. 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 F. App'x. 483, 484 (7th Cir. 2006). However, assuming arguendo that Petitioner 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. The amount of time to be allocated to each inmate is left to the considerable discretion of the BOP. Pence v. Holinka, 2009 WL 3241874, at *1 (W.D. Wis. Sept. 29, 2009), citing Sessel v. Outlaw, 2009 WL 1850331, at *4 (E.D. Ark. 2009); Woods v. Wilson, 2009 WL 2579241, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 19, 2009); Daraio v. Lappin, 2009 WL 303995 (D. Conn. Feb. 9, 2009) (BOP retains discretion under the Second Chance Act to decide whether and when an inmate should be placed in a halfway house). In exercising this discretion, the BOP must make decisions on an individual basis considering the factors listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b) in an effort to “ensure that placement in a community correctional facility . . . is . . . of sufficient duration to provide the greatest likelihood of successful reintegration into the community.” 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(6). Factors to be considered are: (1) the resources of the facility contemplated; (2) the nature and circumstances of the offense; (3) the history and characteristics of the prisoner; (4) any statement by the court that imposed the sentence concerning the purposes for which the sentence was determined to be warranted or recommending a specific type of facility; and (5) any pertinent policy statement issued by the Sentencing Commission. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b).

         Petitioner has failed to indicate whether the BOP has actually made a determination as to his eligibility for placement in an RRC for any amount of time. It is therefore unclear to this Court whether the issue Plaintiff brings in his Petition is ripe for review. With respect to Petitioner's request in his Petition that this Court make an RRC determination in place of the BOP, it will not, as it is not the role of this Court to conduct an independent review of the § 3621(b) factors and make a de novo determination as to Petitioner's placement in a halfway house. See Deffenbaugh v. Krueger, 2015 WL 362743 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 28, 2015).

         Even if this issue were ripe for review, which seems unlikely given Petitioner is presently seeking a recommendation as to his placement, under the Administrative Procedures Act, courts are only empowered to “compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed” and to “hold unlawful and set aside agency action, findings, and conclusions found to be . . . arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” 5 U.S.C. § 706. See also Vasquez v. ...

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