Mcgee v. Keller (INMATE3)

Filing 14

MEMORANDUM OPINION that the 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition for habeas corpus relief should be DISMISSED without prejudice because this case is not ripe for review and because of McGee's failure to exhaust administrative remedies in accordance with the procedures established by the BOP. Signed by Honorable Charles S. Coody on 7/8/2010. (cc, )

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M c G e e v. Keller (INMATE3)(CONSENT) D o c . 14 IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION M IC H A E L A. McGEE, P e titio n e r, v J.A. KELLER, R e sp o n d e n t. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Civil Action No. 2:10cv216-CSC (WO) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION T h i s is a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a federal prisoner pursuant to 2 8 U.S.C. 2241. (Doc. No. 1.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c)(1) and M.D. Ala. LR 73.1, th e parties have consented to the United States Magistrate Judge conducting all proceedings in this case and ordering the entry of final judgment. I. BACKGROUND T h e petitioner, Michael A. McGee ("McGee"), is currently incarcerated at the Federal P r is o n Camp in Montgomery, Alabama, serving a 60-month sentence, imposed in 2007 by th e United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, upon his conviction for co n sp iracy to possess with intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine. In h is petition, McGee claims that the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") has failed to properly c o n s id e r the mandated statutory criteria in determining the duration of his placement in a re s id e n tia l reentry center ("RRC") for the final portion of his federal sentence, in violation o f the Second Chance Act. I n compliance with this court's orders, the respondent has filed an answer in which h e argues that (1) McGee's habeas petition is not ripe for court review, because at the time M c G e e filed his petition, he was not close enough to the end of his sentence to qualify for c o n s id e ra tio n for placement in an RRC under the Second Chance Act, and the BOP had made n o determination regarding his RRC placement; and (2) even if McGee were eligible for c o n s id e r atio n for placement in an RRC at the time he filed his petition, he has not exhausted a d m in is tra tiv e remedies with respect to his claims. (Doc. No. 10.) II. DISCUSSION B y his petition, McGee seeks to have the BOP consider him for placement in an RRC fo r the final portion of his sentence, for the maximum amount of time allowed, pursuant to th e authority of the Second Chance Act of 2007. (Doc. No. 1 at p. 18.) More specifically, h e requests that this court issue an order directing the BOP "in good faith to consider P e titio n e r on an individualized basis using the five factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. 3621(b) p lu s take into account the language in 18 U.S.C. 3624 (c)(6)(C) granting him the maximum am o u n t of time in the RRC to provide the `greatest likelihood of successful reintegration into th e community.'" (Id.) T h e Second Chance Act amended 18 U.S.C. 3621(a) and 3624(c). Pursuant to the S e co n d Chance Act, the BOP staff is required to review inmates for RRC placement 17-19 m o n th s before their projected release date, and inmates are to be individually considered u s in g the five factors listed in 3621(b). When he filed his petition, on March 5, 2010, M c G e e 's projected release date was November 30, 2011. At the time of filing, then, McGee w a s not close enough to the end of his sentence to qualify under the Second Chance Act for 2 co n sideratio n for placement in an RRC for a portion of the remainder of his sentence. There is no indication in the pleadings before this court that an assessment regarding McGee's p l ac e m e n t in an RRC, or the duration of that placement, has been made. Ripeness becomes an issue when a case is anchored in future events that may not occur as anticipated, or at all. S ee Pac. Gas & Elec. Co. v. State Energy Res. Conservation & Dev. Comm'n, 461 U.S. 190, 2 0 0 -20 1 (1983); Dames & McGee v. Regan, 453 U.S. 654, 689 (1981). Under the c irc u m sta n c e s , McGee's case is not ripe for review. M o re o v e r, even if the BOP makes a determination regarding McGee's RRC p l ac e m e n t , McGee must his exhaust his administrative remedies if he wishes to challenge that d ete rm in atio n . The pleadings before this court reflect that McGee has not attempted to p u rs u e relief via the BOP's administrative remedies. McGee maintains that exhaustion s h o u ld be excused because it would be futile to pursue the BOP's administrative remedies. ( D o c . No. 1 at pp. 14-15.) In support, he notes that BOP Director Harley Lappin believes that p ris o n e rs placed in an RRC for longer than six months "tend to do worse rather than better." ( I d .) I t is well settled in this circuit that a federal prisoner who requests habeas corpus relief u n d e r 28 U.S.C. 2241 must first exhaust his administrative remedies before seeking relief fr o m this court. See Skinner v. Wiley, 335 F.3d 1293, 1295 (11 th Cir. 2004); Gonzalez v. U n i te d States, 959 F.2d 211 (11 th Cir. 1992). The BOP has established regulations that set fo rth the procedures that a prisoner must follow before seeking relief from a district court. S e e 28 C.F.R. 542.10 et seq.; United States v. Lucas, 898 F.2d 1554, 1556 (11 th Cir. 1990). 3 T h es e regulations govern formal review of inmate complaints relating to any aspect of their im p r is o n m e n t and specify the procedures that inmates must pursue before attempting to seek re lie f in federal court. United States v. Herrera, 931 F.2d 761, 764 (11 th Cir. 1991). If, and o n ly if, an inmate has pursued his administrative remedies may he seek relief in federal court. Id . "An inmate has not fully exhausted his administrative remedies until he has appealed th r o u g h all three levels [of the BOP's administrative remedies]." Irwin v. Hawk, 40 F.3d 347, 3 4 9 n.2 (11 th Cir. 1994). M c G e e has not exhausted the three-level administrative remedy process, set forth at 2 8 C.F.R. 542.10-.15, with regard to his claims concerning his eligibility for placement in an RRC. Therefore, he has not satisfied the requirement that he exhaust his available ad m inistrativ e remedies before seeking habeas corpus relief in federal court. Moreover, M c G e e has failed to establish that it would be futile to pursue the BOP's administrative r em e d ie s . Despite BOP Director Lappin's personal opinion, the BOP's regulations, amended a fte r passage of the Second Chance Act, provide for placement in an RRC for up to 12 m o n th s . Relying on the Second Chance Act and 28 C.F.R. 570.21, the Eleventh Circuit has d e te rm in e d that an inmate "may immediately seek [ ] individual determination [for placement in an RRC up to 12 months] under the administrative procedures currently available to him." W o o d w a r d v. Grayer, Case No. 08-12851, *7 (11 th Cir. Dec. 23, 2008). Accordingly, as the B O P is required by statute and its own regulations to consider McGee for placement in an R R C for up to 12 months, McGee has failed to demonstrate that it would be futile to exhaust th e BOP's available administrative remedies. See Hayes v. Grayer, Case No. 1:09cv8964 R W S 2009 WL 1473929 (N.D. Ga. May 26, 2009). McGee also complains that he will be delayed in vindicating his rights if he complies w ith the BOP's administrative remedies program and that the time required to exhaust ad m in istrativ e remedies could deprive him of the full 12 months he alleges he is entitled to s e rv e in an RRC. However, there are deadlines incorporated into the administrative remedies p ro g ra m that prevent the BOP from unreasonably delaying consideration of a request for re v ie w and any appeal therefrom. See, e.g., 28 C.F.R. 542.18 (setting forth BOP response tim e s at various levels of review). McGee has not established extraordinary circumstances ju s tify in g waiver of the exhaustion requirement. Therefore, in addition to this action not b e in g ripe for court review, dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies is also w a rra n te d . III. CONCLUSION A c c o rd in g ly , the court concludes that the 28 U.S.C. 2241 petition for habeas corpus re lie f should be DISMISSED without prejudice because this case is not ripe for review and b e c a u s e of McGee's failure to exhaust administrative remedies in accordance with the p ro ce d u re s established by the BOP. A separate final judgment will be entered. D o n e this 8 th day of July, 2010. /s/Charles S. Coody CHARLES S. COODY U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 5

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