Clayton Crowe v. USA
Per Curiam OPINION filed : AFFIRMED, decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Jeffrey S. Sutton, Circuit Judge; Helene N. White, Circuit Judge and William H. Stafford, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 11a0494n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
Jul 18, 2011
CLAYTON P. CROWE,
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
SUTTON and WHITE, Circuit Judges; and STAFFORD, District Judge.*
The petitioner-appellant, Clayton Crowe, appeals from the district court's judgment denying
his petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. We AFFIRM.
Crowe is currently serving a sixty-year sentence in federal prison. Because he suffers from
heart and kidney ailments, Crowe asked the Director of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") to file a
motion in federal court seeking a compassionate release as permitted under 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(1)(A)(i). The BOP denied his request. After pursuing administrative remedies without
success, Crowe filed a petition—styled as a § 2241 petition—in the district court, seeking an order
requiring the BOP to file a motion for compassionate release with the sentencing court in North
The Honorable William H. Stafford, Jr., Senior United States District Judge for the
Northern District of Florida, sitting by designation.
Crowe v. USA
Carolina. The district court correctly determined that § 2241 does not provide subject matter
jurisdiction over Crowe's petition. The district court also correctly determined that, even if viewed
as a request for review of agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701706, Crowe's petition lacks merit because federal courts have no authority to review or countermand
the BOP's decision not to seek a compassionate release for an inmate. Crowe filed a timely appeal
to this court.
The BOP has the authority to seek a modification of a prisoner's sentence pursuant to 18
U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), which provides that a federal court "may not modify a term of
imprisonment once it has been imposed except that . . . in any case . . . the court, upon motion of the
Director of the [BOP], may reduce the term of imprisonment . . . if it finds that . . . extraordinary
and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction." Id. (emphasis added). The statute places no
limits on the BOP's authority to seek or not seek a sentence reduction on behalf of a prisoner, nor
does it define—or place any limits on—what "extraordinary and compelling reasons" might warrant
such a reduction. The BOP, in other words, has broad discretion in its decision to move the court
for a sentence modification under § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i).1
Based on this broad grant of discretion, a number of courts have determined that the BOP's
decision regarding whether or not to file a motion for compassionate release is judicially
unreviewable. See Fernandez v. United States, 941 F.2d 1488, 1493 (11th Cir. 1991) (holding that
Crowe argues, on various grounds, that the breadth of discretion granted to the BOP by
§ 3582(c)(1)(A)(i) is unconstitutional. Crowe's arguments in this regard are frivolous and we
decline to address them.
Crowe v. USA
the BOP's decision whether to seek a compassionate release under the predecessor to §
3582(c)(1)(A)(i) was unreviewable); Simmons v. Christensen, 894 F.2d 1041, 1043 (9th Cir. 1990)
(same); Turner v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 810 F.2d 612, 615 (7th Cir. 1987) (same); Crawford v.
Woodring, No. CV 08-362-GW, 2009 WL 6575082, at *6 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 11, 2009) (dismissing as
unreviewable prisoner's § 2241 request for an order directing the BOP to move for early release
under § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i)); Gutierrez v. Anderson, No. 06-1714, 2006 WL 3086892, at *4 (D. Minn.
Oct. 30, 2006) (same); see also Engle v. United States, 26 F. App'x 394, 397 (6th Cir. 2001) (holding
that the district courts lack "jurisdiction to sua sponte grant compassionate release" and that "[a]
district court may not modify a defendant's federal sentence based on the defendant's ill health,
except upon a motion from the Director of the Bureau of Prisons"). Consistent with these decisions,
we hold that a federal court lacks authority to review a decision by the BOP to not seek a
compassionate release for an inmate under § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i).
The judgment of the district court denying Crowe's petition for writ of habeas corpus is
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