Rockwood v. Lane
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry). Signed by Honorable Yvette Kane on 4/28/17. (rw)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
PAUL GENE ROCKWOOD,
KATHY P. LANE,
On February 24, 2016, Petitioner Paul Gene Rockwood, an
inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood, White
Deer, Pennsylvania (“FCI-Allenwood”), filed a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and a memorandum in
support thereof. (Doc. Nos. 1, 2.)
Rockwood paid the $5.00 filing
Rockwood contends that he was initially approved on February
6, 2015, for placement at a pre-release Residential Re-entry
Center (“RRC”) but the initial approval was revoked by the Bureau
of Prison based on undisclosed security concerns. Id.
contends that the Bureau of Prisons (1) exceeded its statutory
authority and abused its discretion when it disregarded its duty
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)1 to ensure that he spend a portion
Section 3624(c) provides in relevant part as follows:
(1) In general. - 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
of the final months of his sentence in pre-release custody and (2)
exceeded its statutory authority and abused its discretion when it
excluded him from RRC placement without considering the five
statutory factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b).2 Rockwood’s
case not only involves the issue of his placement at an RRC but
(4) No limitations. - Nothing in this subsection shall
be construed to limit or restrict the authority of the
Director of the Bureau of Prisons under section 3621.
Section 3621(b) states in relevant part as follows:
(b) Place of imprisonment. The Bureau of Prisons shall
designate the place of the prisoner's imprisonment. The
Bureau may designate any available penal or
correctional facility that meets minimum standards of
health and habitability established by the Bureau,
whether maintained by the Federal Government or
otherwise and whether within or without the judicial
district in which the person was convicted, that the
Bureau determines to be appropriate and suitable,
(1) the resources of the facility contemplated;
(2) the nature and circumstances of the offense;
(3) the history and characteristics of the prisoner;
(4) any statement by the court that imposed the
(A) concerning the purposes for which the sentence to
imprisonment was determined to be warranted; or
(B) recommending a type of penal or correctional
facility as appropriate; and
(5) any pertinent policy statement issued by the
Sentencing Commission pursuant to section 994(a)(2) of
his inability to complete a Residential Drug Abuse Program
(“RDAP”) in a community setting because of the security concerns.
Rockwood requests the court to vacate the Bureau of Prisons’
decision to exclude him from RRC placement and order the Bureau of
Prisons to comply with the initial decision of February 6, 2015,
which recommended him for RRC placement.
In light of the
allegations in the petition, on March 23, 2016, the court ordered
that the petition and the memorandum in support thereof be served
on the Respondent.
On April 12, 2016, the United States Attorney
filed a response to Rockwood’s petition. (Doc. No. 10.)
Rockwood’s petition became ripe for disposition on April 28, 2016,
when he filed a traverse. (Doc. No. 11.)
For the reasons set
forth below Rockwood’s petition will be denied.
It is well-settled that a prisoner has no justifiable
expectation that he will be incarcerated in a particular prison.
Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238 (1983). Likewise, there is no
constitutional interest in RRC placement. Rockwood’s disagreement
with the Bureau of Prisons’ placement recommendation does not
establish a constitutional violation, as nothing in the Second
Chance Act3 or § 3621(b) entitles an inmate to any guaranteed
placement in an RRC.
See Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons,
432 F.3d 235, 244-251 (3d Cir. 2005) The Woodall Court held that
3. The Second Chance Act amended 18 U.S.C. § 3624 to allow a
maximum of twelve months of pre-release RRC placement.
Bureau of Prisons, when exercising its discretion, merely had to
consider in good faith the factors set forth in §3621(b). (Id.;
see also Brown v. Hogsten, 214 F. App’x 124, 126-127 (3d Cir. Jan.
Furthermore, there is no due process or other
constitutional right to participate in the RDAP, to stay in the
program once participating, or in discretionary early release. See
Greenholtz v. Inmates of Neb. Penal & Corr. Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7
(1979)(inmate does not have a constitutional right to be released
prior to the expiration of a valid sentence); Moody v. Daggett,
429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976)(concluding that discretionary
determinations regarding conditions of confinement do not create
due process rights).
The issue in this case is whether or not the
Bureau of Prisons failed to comply with a statutory provision in
such a manner which was arbitrary and capricious resulting in a
violation of Rockwood’s right to substantive due process. However,
in order to establish such a violation, Rockwood has to show that
the Bureau of Prisons in terminating his participation in the RDAP
and considering the five factors set forth in § 3621(b) acted not
merely in an unreasonable fashion but in a manner which can be
characterized as “conscious shocking” or “deliberately
See Hunterson v. DiSabato, 308 F.3d 236, 246-247 &
n.10 (3d Cir. 2002); Beckley v. Miner, 125 F. App’x 385, 389-390
(3d Cir. 2005).
The record reveals that Rockwood is serving a sentence of
imprisonment of 96 months to be followed by 3 years supervised
release imposed on August 23, 2010, by the United States District
Court for the District of Alaska for making false statements to a
federal agent relating to an offense involving domestic terrorism
in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1001(a)(2). (Doc. No. 10-2, at 32.)
While incarcerated at FCI-Allenwood, Rockwood applied for and was
accepted for participation in the RDAP. (Id. at 37.)
consists of the following three components: (1) a residential unit
based component which is separate from the general population
which involves individual and group activities provided by a drug
treatment team; (2) if time allows a follow-up unit-based
component where the inmate is given counseling support while the
inmate transitions back into general population; and (3) a
Transitional Drug Abuse Treatment component (“TDAT”) involving
community corrections confinement and drug abuse treatment. 28
C.F.R. § 550.53;(Doc. No. 10-2, at 3-27).
An inmate convicted of
a non-violent offense who successfully completes all three
components of the RDAP is eligible to have his sentence reduced by
up to 12 months. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B).4 Failure to complete
all three components disqualifies an inmate for a sentence
reduction. (Doc. No. 10-2, at 27.)
The Warden at a Bureau of
4. Removal from the RDAP does not deprive an inmate of either
procedural or substantive due process because a prisoner has no
liberty interest in discretionary release from prison prior to
the expiration of his or her sentence. Heard v. Quintana, 184 F.
Supp.3d 515, 519 (E.D. KY. 2016). Furthermore, “[t]he statute
[section 3621(e)] does not implicate a constitutionally-protected
liberty interest because it does not mandate a sentence
Prisons facility “on the basis of his or her discretion, may find
an inmate ineligible for participation in” the TDAT component.
(Doc. 10-2, at 12.)
When Rockwood was accepted into the RDAP program his release
date was provisionally reduced from August 2, 2017, to August 2,
(Doc. No. 10-2, at 31-33, 35.)
On February 6, 2015,
Rockwood’s Unit Team at FCI-Allenwood individually considered
Rockwood for RRC placement using the five-factor criteria found in
18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). (Id. at 35.) Following the review of
Rockwood’s file, the recommendation was made that Rockwood’s
placement in an RRC for 151 to 180 days was appropriate for
successful reintegration into the community. (Id.)5
On August 4, 2015, the Warden at FCI-Allenwood, in the
exercise of his discretion found Rockwood ineligible for
participation in the TDAT component of the drug abuse program
because of recently revealed security concerns. Consequently,
Rockwood was expelled from the RDAP program because of his
inability to complete the TDAT component portion at an RRC.
Thereafter, on August 17, 2015, as a result of the security
concerns, Rockwood’s unit team reconsidered him for RRC placement
5. After the initial February 6, 2015, recommendation for RRC
placement the United States Probation Office denied his release
plan given the offense conduct, particularly, the formulation of
a list of terror targets in the Boston, Massachusetts, area and
sought a modification (which was approved by the court) to choose
a RRC outside Boston, Massachusetts area. (Doc. No. 2-1, at 1015.)
using the five factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), and
recommended against such placement. (Doc. 10-2, at 40.)
document noted Rockwood’s projected release date as August 2,
It is undisputed that Rockwood has exhausted his
administrative remedies regarding the decision relating to RRC
The fact that the Warden prevented him from participating in
the TDAT component made it impossible for him to complete the RDAP
and consequently receive a potential sentence reduction of up to 1
As noted above Rockwood claims that the Bureau of Prisons
exceeded its statutory authority and abused its discretion when it
did not consider him for RRC placement or the factors set forth in
18 U.S.C. § 3621(c).
The record reveals that Rockwood’s claim
that the Bureau of Prisons did not consider him for RRC placement
or the factors set forth in § 3621(c) is devoid of merit.
only question is whether or not the Bureau of Prisons abused its
discretion in relying on undisclosed security concerns to remove
him from the RDAP and to deny him placement in a RRC.
above the Warden at a BOP facility has discretion to remove an
inmate from participation in the TDAT component of the RDAP.
There is no evidence that the Warden who cited security concerns
abused that discretion or that the Unit Team which recommended
against RRC placement based on the same undisclosed security
concerns abused its discretion.
Rockwood has the burden of proof with respect to establishing
an abuse of discretion which would warrant habeas relief.
has failed to do.
Although Rockwood attempted to obtain
information regarding the security concerns by way of a Freedom of
Information Request, the Bureau of Prisons only provided him with
a 4-page heavily redacted document which merely notes security
concerns without any specifics. (Doc. No. 2-1, at 46.) The Bureau
of Prison indicated that the records were redacted under
exemptions (b)(7)(C),6(b)(7)(F)7 and (b)(5)8 of the Freedom of
Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552. (Id.)
When provided with the
redacted document on December 3, 2015, Rockwood was advised that
he could file a written appeal to the Office of Information Policy
within 60 days and that he should address the appeal to Office of
Information Policy, U.S. Department of Justice, 1425 New York
Ave., Suit 11050, Washington, D.C. 20530-0001 and mark the
envelope Freedom of Information Act Appeal.
There is no evidence
submitted by Rockwood indicating that he followed through with his
administrative remedies relating to the Freedom of Information Act
6. Records which “could reasonably be expected to constitute an
unwarranted invasion of personal privacy[.]”
7. Records which “could reasonably be expected to endanger the
life or physical safety of any individual[.]”
8. Records consisting of “inter-agency or intra-agency
memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a
party other than an agency in litigation with the agency,
provided that the deliberative process privilege shall not apply
to records created 25 years or more before the date on which the
records were requested[.]”
request or subsequently filed a civil action under the Freedom of
Information Act in federal court.
Rockwood is not entitled to habeas relief because he
failed to establish that the Bureau of Prisons acted in a manner
which “shocked the conscience” or was “deliberately indifferent.”
Finally, because Rockwood is not detained because of
process issued by a state court and the petition is not brought
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, no action by this court with respect
to a certificate of appealability is necessary.
An appropriate order will be entered.
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