United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
November 8, 2005.
BRYAN DAVIS CHRISTIAN, Petitioner
RONNIE R. HOLT, Warden, Respondent.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN JONES III, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:
Bryan David Christian ("Petitioner"), an inmate presently
confined at the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution, in
Minersville, Pennsylvania ("FCI-Schuylkill"), initiated this
pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241("the Petition"). (Rec. Doc. 1). The Petition is
accompanied by an in forma pauperis application. (Rec. Doc.
2). FCI-Schuylkill Warden Ronnie R. Holt is named as sole
Petitioner states that he pled guilty to charges of possession
of a firearm by a convict and making a false statement to obtain
a firearm in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. He was subsequently sentenced to a 195 month term of incarceration on
February 24, 1993. He adds that he has been in custody in
connection with his federal conviction since December 6, 1992.
Petitioner states that he has been informed by the Federal
Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") that he is eligible for a maximum award
of good conduct time ("GCT") minus four (4) days under
18 U.S.C. § 3624(b). (Rec. Doc. 1, Att. 1 at 2). Petitioner contends that
the BOP "calculates maximum good time credit at 47 days per year
giving Mr. Christian a total of 717 days" of GCT. (Rec. Doc. 1,
Att. 1 at 2).
The Petition claims that Petitioner should be entitled to
fifty-four (54) days of GCT for every year of the actual sentence
imposed. However, as a result of the BOP's alleged erroneous
calculation method of awarding GCT based on the amount of time
actually served, Petitioner asserts that he can only be credited
with 717 days of GCT as opposed to the correct amount of 823
days. (Rec. Doc. 1, Att. 1 at 2). Petitioner concludes that the
purportedly improper calculation method presently employed by the
BOP is contrary to what Congress intended in enacting the GCT
legislation. Petitioner admits that he has failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies and that any attempt to do so would be
DISCUSSION: Habeas corpus petitions brought under § 2241 are subject to
summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 4 ("Preliminary Consideration
by the Judge") of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (1977)
(applicable to § 2241 petitions under Rule 1(b)). See, e.g.,
Patton v. Fenton, 491 F. Supp. 156, 158-59 (M.D. Pa. 1979).
Rule 4 provides in pertinent part: "If it plainly appears from
the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the
judge shall make an order for its summary dismissal and cause the
petitioner to be notified." A petition may be dismissed without
review of an answer "when the petition is frivolous, or obviously
lacking in merit, or where . . . the necessary facts can be
determined from the petition itself. . . ."
Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir.), cert.
denied, 400 U.S. 906 (1970). Accord Love v. Butler,
952 F.2d 10, 15 (1st Cir. 1991).
18 U.S.C. § 3624(b) provides:
a prisoner who is serving a term of imprisonment of
more than 1 year other than a term of imprisonment
for the duration of the prisoner's life, may receive
credit toward the service of the prisoner's sentence,
beyond the time served, of up to 54 days at the end
of each year of the prisoner's term of imprisonment,
beginning at the end of the first year of the term,
subject to determination by the Bureau of Prisons
that, during that year, the prisoner has displayed
exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary
regulations. The BOP's interpretation of this statute appears in Program
Statement 5880.28 which states that 54 days of GCT may be earned
for each full year served on a sentence in excess of 1 year with
the GCT being prorated for the last partial year. The BOP then
subtracts 54 days of GCT from the remainder of the term to be
served, not from the year already served. Pursuant to this method
of calculation, GCT is awarded only after it is earned by a
It is initially noted that it is the BOP, not courts, which
determines whether federal inmates should receive good time
credits. United States v. Evans, 1 F.3d 654 (7th Cir.
1993). A federal sentence commences when the defendant is
received by the Attorney General of the United States for service
of his federal sentence. Chambers v. Holland, 920 F. Supp. 618,
621 (M.D. Pa.), aff'd, 100 F.3d 946 (3d Cir. 1996).
In support of his miscalculation argument, the Petitioner
asserts that the BOP's interpretation should not be given
deference because it was the intent of Congress that the amount
of available GCT should equal 15% of a federal prisoner's
sentence. As a result, computation of GCT should be based on a
prisoner's sentence rather than the amount of time he has served.
(Rec. Doc. 1, Att. 1 at8).
At least four other Judges in the Middle District of
Pennsylvania have denied habeas relief with respect to the same claim asserted
herein by Petitioner. In Baldwin v. Angeline, No. 3:CV-03-1144,
slip op. at 13 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 28, 2004) (Caputo, J.). Judge
Caputo, citing Pacheco-Camancho v. Hood, 272 F. 3d 1266
(9th 2001), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 1105 (2002), concluded
that "the BOP's interpretation is a reasonable interpretation of
28 U.S.C. § 3624(b)." Chief Judge Vanaskie of this Court reached
a similar determination in Hill v. Nash, No. 3:CV-02-1022, slip
op. at 3. (M.D. Pa. Jan. 30, 2003) (Vanaskie, C.J.), aff'd, No.
03-1392, slip op. (3d Cir. Aug. 29, 2003) (per curiam). In
Robinson v. Nash, Civil No. 3:CV-04-1585, slip op. (M.D. Pa.
Nov. 8, 2004) (Conaboy, J.), Judge Conaboy concurred with the
prior decisions rendered by Judges Vanaskie and Caputo. Judge
McClure subsequently rendered a similar finding. Elejalde v.
Apker, Civil No. 4:CV-04-2665 slip op. (M.D. Pa. Dec. 15, 2004).
In Lopez v. Williamson, Civil No. 4:CV-04-2390, slip op.
(M.D. Pa. Dec. 14, 2004) (Jones, J.), this Court concurred with
the approach taken by Judges Vanaskie, Conaboy, McClure, and
Caputo and held "that the BOP's interpretation of § 3624(b) is
`based on a permissible construction of the statute.'" Id. at
p. 5 (citing Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council,
467 U.S. 837, 843 (1984)).
Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit addressed this same issue and likewise concluded that
there was no basis for federal habeas corpus relief. See O'Donald v. Johns, 402 F.3d 172, 174 (3d
Cir. 2005). In O'Donald, the Third Circuit agreed that the
meaning of § 3624(b) was ambiguous but rejected Petitioner's
present argument as meritless, holding that "the meaning of §
3624(b) is ambiguous" and that the "the BOP's interpretation is
reasonable." Id. at 174.
Based on an application of the Third Circuit's recent decision
in O'Donald and the prior decisions cited above to the present
petition, there is no basis for an award of federal habeas corpus
relief. It remains the conclusion of this Court that the BOP's
method of computing GCT is neither arbitrary, capricious nor
manifestly contrary to the statute. See Firstland Int'l v.
INS, 377 F.3d 127, 131 (2d Cir. 2004). Consequently,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. Petitioner is granted temporary leave to proceed
in forma pauperis for the sole purpose of
filing this action.
2. The Petition (doc. 1) is DENIED.
3. The Clerk of Court is directed to close the case.
4. Based on the Court's conclusion herein, there is
no basis for the issuance of a certificate of appealability.
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