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Garcia v. Stewart

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 26, 2018

MIGUEL GARCIA, #72317-067 Petitioner
v.
TIMOTHY STEWART, Warden Respondent

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paul W. Grimm United States District Judge.

         While in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") following his conviction for a drug offense, for which he received an enhanced sentence for possession of a firearm, Petitioner Miguel Garcia enrolled in a Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (the "Program") that offers early release for eligible participants. When Garcia was determined ineligible for early release, he filed this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. ECF No. 1. He argues that the BOP improperly determined him ineligible for early release under the statutory provisions requiring the BOP to offer the Program and permitting the BOP to reduce the confinement period of prisoners who were convicted of non-violent offenses and who successfully complete the program. Pet. 4. As relief, he seeks "to be awarded the year off under S 3621(e)" and approved for a 12 month placement in a Residential Re-entry Center. Id. at 7-8.

         Respondent Timothy Stewart[1] filed a Motion to Dismiss the Petition or, In the Alternative, for Summary Judgment with declarations and verified exhibits. ECF No. 3. The Motion is unopposed?[2] There is no need for a hearing to resolve the issues. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Respondent's Motion, treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment, shall be GRANTED, and the Petition shall be DISMISSED. A Certificate of Appealabilty shall not issue.

         STATUTORY AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

         Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program

         Title 18 U.S.C. § 3621 directs the BOP "make available appropriate substance abuse treatment for each prisoner the Bureau determines has a treatable condition of substance addiction or abuse." 18 U.S.C.§3621(b). The statute confers discretionary authority to the BOP to provide up to one year of early release to federal prisoners who have been convicted of a nonviolent offense and successfully complete a substance abuse program. 18 U.S.C.§3621(e)(2)(B) ("The period a prisoner convicted of a nonviolent offense remains in custody after successfully completing a treatment program may be reduced by the Bureau of Prisons, but such reduction may not be more than one year from the term the prisoner must otherwise serve." (emphasis added)); see also Lopez v. Davis, 531 U.S. 230, 233 (2001) (quoting § 3621).

         To implement the statute, the BOP established the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program, promulgated 28 C.F.R.§ 550.53-55 to implement the Program, and issued Program Statements to clarify eligibility requirements for the Program. The three phases comprising the Program are: 1) the unit-based residential program; 2) the institution transition phase, and 3) the community transitional services phase. 28 C.F.R.§ 550.53. A participant must complete each of the three phases successfully to become eligible for early release. Id. §§ 550.53-55. Successful completion does not guarantee eligibility for early release; rather, once an eligible inmate "[successfully completes" the Program "during [his] current commitment," he "may be eligible for early release by a period not to exceed 12 months." 28 C.F.R.§ 550.55(a) (emphasis added); see Ramis v. Stewart, 2016 WL237042, at *1 (D. Md. 2016).

         BOP regulations preclude inmates convicted of carrying, possession, or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon or explosive from early release under the Program. 28 C.F.R 550.55(b)(5)(ii). Additionally, an inmate with a conviction for "[a]n offense that, by its nature or conduct, presents a serious potential risk of physical force against the person or property of another," is disqualified from early release under the regulations. 28 C.F.R. § 550(b)(5)(iii).

         Residential Re-Entry and the Second Chance Act

         The Second Chance Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-199, 122 Stat. 657, codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 3621 and 3624(c)(1), permits eligible federal inmates to spend some portion of the final 12 months of their sentences in a community correctional facility, also known as a halfway house or a Residential Re-Entry Center ("RRC"). The statute provides in relevant part:

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.

18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(1).

         The plain language of the statute makes clear that RRC placement is not guaranteed and that a 12-month RRC placement is the maximum, not a mandatory, term. See id.; see also Demis v. Sniezek,558 F.3d 508, 514 (6th Cir. 2009) (observing that previous mandatory timing requirements no longer apply). In determining the appropriate length and location of pre-release custody, the BOP is required to consider placement "on an individual basis" and "in a manner consistent with [18 U.S.C. § 3621(b)]." 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(6)(A) & (B); 28 C.F.R. § 570.22. The evaluation is conducted approximately 17-19 months before anticipated release. Resp.'s Mem., ECF No. 3-1 (citing Nov. 14, 2008 Mem. from Joyce K. Conley, Assistant Director, Corr. Programs Div., BOP, titled ...


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