PLYTAS v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS
MEMORANDUM re Habeas Petition 1 and mtns to dismiss 3 and 9 (Order to follow as separate docket entry)Signed by Honorable William W. Caldwell on 3/6/17. (ma)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CHRISTOPHER PLYTAS, JR.,
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, et
CIVIL NO. 1:CV-16-0960
The pro se petitioner, Christopher Plytas, Jr., a federal inmate formerly
housed at FCI-Schuylkill, located in Minersville, Pennsylvania, filed this petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The petition challenges the decision of the
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) not to grant him a reduction in sentence following his
successful participation in a Therapeutic Community (TC) program while he was serving
concurrent federal and state sentences in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of
Corrections (PA DOC).1 (ECF No. 1, Pet.). Plytas argues that the drug and alcohol TC
program he completed with the PA DOC “is the equivalent” to the BOP’s Residential Drug
Abuse Program (RDAP). (Id., p. 9). He argues he is entitled to a reduction in sentence up
to one year pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621.
This matter was transferred from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to this Court
on May 23, 2016, as Petitioner was housed within this district at the time he filed his
Petition. (ECF No. 4). Plytas is presently housed at FCI-Fairton, in Fairton, New Jersey.
Standard of Review
Habeas corpus review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is the appropriate means
for a federal inmate to challenge a BOP decision to challenge the “execution” of his
sentence. See Woodall v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235, 241 (3d Cir. 2005).
On January 21, 2013, Plytas entered a guilty plea in the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania to being a felon in possession of firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)
and possession of stolen firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j). He was sentenced to a
term of 96 months’ incarceration followed by three years of supervised release. (ECF No.
1, Pet.) The sentencing court granted permission for Plytas to serve his sentence under
“Pennsylvania Authority.” (Id., p. 15). The sentencing court also agreed that Plytas would
“receive credit from date of arrest on this offense 01/14/11.” (Id.) According to Plytas, his
federal sentence ran concurrent to his related state burglaries and the BOP designated the
PA DOC as the place for him to serve his federal sentence. (Id., p. 16)
While housed in the PA DOC, Plytas completed “a therapeutic residential
community drug treatment program which is the equivalent of the RDAP program offered in
the federal system.” (Id.) In 2015, arguing that “[u]nder 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e) upon
completion of the RDAP Drug Program an inmate is entitled to a reduction in sentence,”
Plytas requested a reduction in his federal sentence from the BOP. (Id., p. 18). In
November 2, 2015, his request was denied. (Id., p. 19). The BOP advised Petitioner that:
[Y]ou are not eligible for the early release incentive described in 18
U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B). The early release incentive is only
authorized for those inmates who have successfully completed a
program of residential abuse treatment provided by the Federal
Bureau of Prisons. See 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(1). Furthermore, the
controlling federal regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 550.55(a)(2) provides for
the possibility of early release only for those inmates who have
“successfully completed a RDAP, as described in § 550.53, during
their current commitment.” Since you have not completed “a
RDAP, as described in § 550.53,” you are not eligible to receive
the early release incentive.
In its response, the BOP makes various alternative arguments for denying
and dismissing the Petition. (ECF No. 9, Mot. to Dismiss). First, it argues the court lacks
jurisdiction in this matter because there is no in personam jurisdiction over Plytas’ current
custodian, FCI-Fairton’s Warden. This argument fails as a matter of law. Plytas filed his
Petition while housed at FCI-Schuylkill, which is located within the Middle District of
Pennsylvania. His transfer to another district does not divest this court of jurisdiction. See
Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 441, 124 S.Ct. 2711, 159 L.Ed.2d 513 (2004); Barden v.
Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 477 n.1 (3d Cir. 1990).
The BOP’s next argument is more persuasive. “The RDAP program gives the
[BOP] the discretion to alter a prisoner’s conditions of confinement or allow him a sentence
reduction of up to one year if he successfully completes the program and his conviction
was for a nonviolent offense.” Douvos v. Quintana, 382 F. App’x 119, 112 (3d Cir.
2009)(nonprecedential). Under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e), and as an incentive for an inmate's
successful completion of substance abuse treatment, “[t]he period a prisoner convicted of a
nonviolent offense remains in custody after successfully completing a treatment program
may be reduced by the Bureau of Prisons, but such reduction may not be more than one
year from the term the prisoner must otherwise serve.” 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2) (B). To
complete the BOP treatment program, and therefore to become eligible for early release,
an inmate must complete all phases of the treatment program. See 28 C.F.R. §§ 550.53,
550.55. Here, the BOP argues that Plytas is not entitled to receive a reduction of sentence
as he has not completed a BOP RDAP program.
We agree with the BOP’s position. However, even if we assumed that Plytas
is correct that the PA DOC’s TC is “equivalent” to the BOP’s RDAP program, and that he
successfully completed the TC program, the BOP is not required to grant Plytas a reduction
of sentence. Plytas’ premise that he is “entitled” to a sentence reduction is unfounded. A
sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e) is left to the discretion of the BOP. See 18
U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B); Lopez v. Davis, 531 U.S. 230, 241, 121 S.Ct. 714, 722, 148
L.Ed.2d 635 (2001) (“When an eligible prisoner successfully completes drug treatment, the
Bureau thus has the authority, but not the duty, both to alter the prisoner’s conditions of
confinement and to reduce his term of imprisonment.”) Thus, there is no mandatory
language in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e) requiring a sentence reduction, and so even if Plytas had
participated in a BOP sanctioned RDAP program, he has no statutory right to early release
under Section 3621(e). Likewise, to the extent Plytas disagrees with the BOP’s decision
not to accept his state TC program as an RDAP program or withhold any reduction in
sentence for his completion of such a program, this disagreement does not demonstrate an
arbitrary or abusive decision by the BOP.2
We will issue an order denying relief. We will not issue a certificate of
appealability since Petitioner has the right to appeal our order to the Third Circuit without a
certificate. See Burkey v. Marberry, 556 F.3d 142, 146 (3d Cir. 2009).
/s/ William W. Caldwell
William W. Caldwell
United States District Judge
Date: March 6, 2017
As Plytas did not participate in an RDAP program we need not decide whether his
underlying convictions excluded him from participating in such a program.
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