Brown v. Sproul
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, denying #10 MOTION for Reconsideration. Signed by Judge J. Phil Gilbert on 1/17/2023. (jdh)
Case 3:22-cv-02721-JPG Document 11 Filed 01/17/23 Page 1 of 5 Page ID #91
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
Case No. 22–CV–2721–JPG
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner David Brown (“Petitioner” or “Brown”)
Motion for Reconsideration. (Doc. 10). The Court recently denied Brown’s Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus under 21 U.S.C. § 2241 and entered judgment against Brown and in favor of
Respondent Dan Sproul (“Respondent” or “Sproul”). Brown now requests this Court to
reconsider that decision.
In Brown’s initial petition under § 2241, he challenged the denial of his ability to obtain a
“nearer release transfer” which is a transfer for the purpose of placing an inmate closer to his
family. (Doc. 1). The Court dismissed Brown’s petition because this Court does not have
jurisdiction to review the BOP’s individual designations of an inmate’s place of imprisonment.
Brown now moves for reconsideration on the basis that the Court misinterpreted Brown’s initial
petition and argues that Respondent is not “enacting all of the incentives under the First Step
Act” including nearer release transfer. (Doc. 10).
While the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not explicitly contemplate motions to
reconsider, such motions are routinely filed and generally construed as Motions to Alter or
Amend an Order or Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). Mares v. Busby, 34
F.3d 533, 535 (7th Cir. 1994); U.S. v. Deutsch, 981 F.2d 299, 300 (7th Cir. 1992). Brown’s
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motion was filed within 28 days of the entry of judgment and will be considered under Rule
59(e). Banks v. Chicago Board of Education, 750 F.3d 663, 666 (7th Cir. 2014).
Rule 59(e) allows a court to alter or amend a judgment in order to correct manifest errors
of law or fact or to address newly discovered evidence. Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 494
(7th Cir. 2008). However, “[r]econsideration is not an appropriate forum for rehashing
previously rejected arguments.” Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d
1264, 1270 (7th Cir. 1996).
The Court has reviewed Petitioner’s initial petition as well as its motion to reconsider.
The Court finds that it made no manifest errors of law or fact, and Brown provides no newly
discovered evidence. Brown states the Court misunderstood his argument, and that his argument
is that the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and Respondent “used the wrong regulations and law
(FBOP Program Statement 5100.08 and 18 U.S.C. 3621) when the Petitioner specifically
requested a nearer release transfer under the FSA…” (Doc. 10 at 2).
As stated previously, the BOP has exclusive authority to determine the place of
imprisonment for prisoners. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(2); United States v. James, No. 15-cr255 (SRN), 2020 WL 1922568, at *2 (D. Minn. Apr. 21, 2020). Nothing in the CARES Act, the
First Step Act, or the Second Chance Act altered the exclusivity of this authority to the BOP.
See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(2).
“Section 3621 governs the authority of the BOP to designate a prisoner's placement in
general while he ... is in the BOP's custody.” Sacora v. Thomas, 628 F.3d 1059, 1062 (9th Cir.
2010). Section 3621(b) states that the BOP “shall designate the place of the prisoner's
imprisonment.” 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). Thus, the BOP “has the statutory authority to choose the
locations where prisoners serve their sentence.” United States v. Ceballos, 671 F.3d 852, 855
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(9th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citations omitted). In exercising this discretionary authority, 18
U.S.C. § 3621(b), as amended by the First Step Act of 2018, states that the BOP shall “place the
prisoner in a facility as close as practicable to the prisoner's primary residence, and to the extent
practicable, in a facility within 500 driving miles of that residence,” subject to various
considerations. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b); see First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, Title VI, §
601, 132 Stat. 5194, 5237 (2018). Relevant considerations include bed availability, the prisoner's
security designation, the prisoner's programmatic needs, the prisoner's mental and medical health
needs, any request made by the prisoner related to faith-based needs, recommendations of the
sentencing court, and other security concerns of the BOP. See 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b).
Section 3621(b) further states that “[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law, a
designation of a place of imprisonment under [18 U.S.C. § 3621(b)] is not reviewable by any
court.” 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). “Congress stripped federal courts of jurisdiction to review the
BOP's individual designations of an inmate's place of imprisonment.” Ahmad v. Jacquez, 860 F.
App'x 459, 461 (9th Cir. 2021); see Gullett v. Salas, Case No. 2:21-cv-05720-JAK-JDE, 2021
WL 3171967, at *2 (C.D. Cal. July 27, 2021) (“Federal courts ... lack jurisdiction over
challenges to the BOP's individualized placement determinations.”).
Brown indicates that this Court does have the jurisdiction to review claims that the
“[BOP] acted contrary to established federal law, violated the Constitution, or exceeded its
statutory authority.” Rodriguez v. Copenhaver, 823 F.3d 1238, 1242 (9th Cir. 2016) (citation
omitted). To the extent Brown argues the BOP acted contrary to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), as
amended by the First Step Act, as stated previously, this is incorrect. The First Step Act does not
guarantee the “nearer release.” The First Step Act contained a provision very similar to the
BOP's existing nearer release program. Section 3621(b) provides that, subject to certain factors,
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the BOP shall place a prisoner “in a facility as close as practicable to the prisoner's primary
residence, and to the extent practicable, in a facility within 500 driving miles of that residence.”
18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). The First Step Act also contained a jurisdiction stripping provision
regarding the nearer release placement: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a
designation of a place of imprisonment under this subsection is not reviewable by any court.” Id.
Because the First Step Act does not guarantee such a transfer, BOP did not violate federal law
when rejecting Brown’s transfer.
Additionally, Brown has no constitutional right to any transfer and thus, the BOP did not
violate the Constitution. Watt v. Rivera, No. 2:15-cv-00081-JLH-JTR, 2016 WL 1689004, at *4
(E.D. Ark. Apr. 1, 2016), report and recommendation adopted, No. 2:15CV00081 JLH/JTR,
2016 WL 1643837 (E.D. Ark. Apr. 25, 2016) (“Because Watt had no constitutional right to any
transfer, much less a “nearer release transfer,” the BOP acted well within its discretion in
applying its established policy.”).
In short, because Brown is specifically requesting a review of his individual designation
of a place of imprisonment, this Court is without jurisdiction to review such a designation.
Therefore, pursuant to § 3621(b), we lack jurisdiction to consider Brown’s individual challenge
to the BOP's transfer decision, which is the relief that Brown is asking (Doc. 1) (“I am requesting
that the Court direct the respondent to conduct the nearer release transfer and transfer the movant
to FMC Devens or FCI Otisville.”).
For these reasons, the Court DENIES Brown’s motion for reconsideration (Doc. 10).
Further, because the Court issues a final order, it will also deny a certificate of appealability as to
the motion for reconsideration. A certificate of appealability is required before a habeas petitioner
may appeal an unfavorable decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c);
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FED. R.APP. P. 22(b). The Court denies a certificate of appealability, as reasonable jurists would
not debate that petitioner's motion to reconsider fails to warrant relief. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473, 484, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 146 L.Ed.2d 542 (2000) (stating, “a habeas prisoner must make a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, a demonstration that, ... reasonable
jurists could debate whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved
in a different manner or that the issues presented were “adequate to deserve encouragement to
proceed further”) (citation and quotation marks omitted).
Thus, for the reasons stated above, the Court denies a certificate of appealability as to the
Court's instant denial of Brown’s motion to reconsider.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: January 17, 2023
./s J. Phil Gilbert
J. PHIL GILBERT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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