United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge.
petition for writ of habeas corpus challenges the Federal
Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP") determination that
petitioner is ineligible for a one-year sentence reduction
due to a prior conviction for involuntary manslaughter. (ECF
No. 1). In response, respondent filed a motion to dismiss, or
in the alternative, for summary judgment. (ECF No. 5).
Petitioner opposes the motion. (ECF No. 9). No. hearing is
necessary for the disposition of the matters pending before
the court. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For
the reasons that follow, respondent's motion, construed
as a motion to dismiss, shall be granted and the petition
shall be dismissed.
Kevin Sorrell is confined to the custody of the BOP in the
Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. He
asserts that on January 10, 2017, the "Unit-team"
at a BOP facility located in Bennettsville, South Carolina,
informed him that his prior felony or misdemeanor adult
conviction history included an offense listed in 28 C.F.R.
§ 550.55(b) that precludes a one-year deduction from his
time in custody. (Habeas Pet. at 15, ECF No. 1). Petitioner
was advised that if he disagreed with the team's
assessment he could file a BP-09 with the Warden explaining
why he felt the decision was incorrect. (Id.).
filed a BP-09 Request for Administrative Remedy with the
Warden, explaining that 28 C.F.R. § 550.55(b) defined
excludable offenses as "homicide (including) death
caused by 'reckless[ness]' but not including deaths
cause[d] by negligence of [sic] justified homicide."
(Id.). He maintained that his involuntary
manslaughter conviction involved negligence. (Id.).
The Warden responded to petitioner's complaint,
explaining that the definition of involuntary manslaughter in
North Carolina, where petitioner was convicted of the
offense, qualifies the conviction as a precluding prior
conviction. (Id.). The Warden further explained that
North Carolina defines involuntary manslaughter "as an
unintentional [sic] killing that is proximately caused by
either (a) an unlawful act not amounting to a felony and not
ordinarily dangerous to human life, or (b) culpable
negligence." (Id., ). The phrase "culpable
negligence" according to the Warden's response, is
defined by North Carolina law as "such recklessness or
carelessness that it proximately results in death."
(Id.). The Warden went on to explain that the
"controlling federal regulation . . . specifically
provid[es] for death cause[d] by recklessness," but does
not include death caused by negligence. (Id.)
Petitioner's BP-09 complaint was therefore denied.
(Id; see also id., Ex. 2 at 13-14, ECF No. 1-2).
appealed the Warden's response to the BOP's Regional
Mid-Atlantic office, complaining that he was not satisfied
with the decision that he was precluded from early release
upon completion of the Residential Drug Abuse Program
("RDAP"). (Habeas Pet. at 15, 17, ECF No. 1). He
maintained that his involuntary manslaughter conviction did
not have the required level of culpability or state of mind
required to exclude him from the program. (Id. at
April 21, 2017, the Regional Director for the Mid-Atlantic
Region rejected petitioner's appeal, taking the position
that the State of North Carolina defines culpable negligence
as recklessness. (Id. at 17). In the Regional
Director's view, the decision finding the petitioner
precluded from receiving an early release benefit was proper.
August 10, 2017, petitioner filed an appeal with the Central
Office again asserting that involuntary manslaughter involves
negligence and is not willful, making it an offense that does
not preclude him from the early release program.
(Id.). Petitioner maintained that the BOP relies on
"UCR Federal regulation established-by the FBI" and
the "UCR defines homicide as willfully (non-negligence)
killing of one human being by another." (Id.).
October 16, 2017, the Central Office denied petitioner's
appeal, observing that:
We have reviewed documentation relevant to your appeal and
based on the information assessed concur with the manner in
which the Warden and Regional Director addressed your issue
at the time of your administrative Remedy and subsequent
appeal. Our review reveals on January 12, 2017, your case was
thoroughly reviewed by the legal staff at the Designation and
Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) for early release
eligibility pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e). At the time
of your review, it was determined you were precluded from
early release in accordance with Program Statement 5331.02
Early Release Procedures under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e) which
is based on the guidelines set forth in program statement
5162.05, Categorization of offense.
(Id; see also id, Ex 2 at 21, ECF No. 1-2).
petition in this court, petitioner seeks a judgment against
respondent for erroneously interpreting Program Statement
550.55 and 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e). (Habeas Pet. at 19, ECF
No. 1). He further seeks award of a one-year early release
upon completion of the RDAP program and an order declaring
that involuntary manslaughter is a non-violent offense.
avers that the petition should be dismissed under FED. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(1) because 18 U.S.C. § 3625 precludes
judicial review, under the Administrative Procedure Act, of
the BOP's discretionary and individualized determination
of early release eligibility under § 3621(e). (Mem. P.
& A. Supp. Resp't's Mot. Dismiss
["Resp't's Mot."] at 2, ECF No. 5-1). In
the alternative, respondent asserts that the petition should
be dismissed under FED. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to
state a claim because the BOP did not abuse its discretion in
denying petitioner early release in light of his involuntary
manslaughter conviction, and further, petitioner does not
have a protected liberty interest in early release.
further explains that in 2005, petitioner was indicted for
first degree murder in North Carolina in connection with the
shooting death of an individual. (Resp't Mot. Ex. 2 at 7,
ECF No. 5-2). In 2006, in connection with the same ...