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Scott-EL v. United States Parole Commission

September 18, 2006

ARTHUR L. SCOTT-EL, PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION, ET AL., :: RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Jones III United States District Judge

ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS

Petitioner Arthur Scott-El ("Petitioner" or "Scott-El"), an inmate at Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania ("FCI-Allenwood"), commenced the above-captioned action by filing a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (doc. 1) pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Named as Respondents are the United States Parole Commission ("Parole Commission") and FCI-Allenwood Warden Stan Yates. By Order dated March 22, 2004 (doc. 3), Respondents were directed to answer the Petition. On April 26, 2004, Respondents filed their Response to the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Rec. Doc. 8). For the reasons outlined below, the Petition will be denied.

Following a jury trial in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Scott-El was convicted of armed burglary, armed rape, sodomy, armed assault with intent to commit rape, and carrying a dangerous weapon. In 1983, he was sentenced to a thirty (30) year, four (4) month to life term of imprisonment.

Petitioner's present action does not seek to collaterally attack his conviction or sentence. Rather, he contends that the Parole Commission violated his constitutional rights in denying his request for parole by engaging in a prejudicial and biased application of its guidelines for District of Columbia ("D.C.") Code offenders.

On January 30, 2003, the Parole Commission conducted the Petitioner's initial parole hearing. Scott-El claims that the Hearing Examiner violated his equal protection rights by: (1) using "two base point scores to assess and determine petitioner's parole suitability and eligibility"*fn1 and (2) employing the Punitive Section of the guidelines for D.C. Code offenders codified at 28 C.F.R. § 2.80 while ignoring the Program Section of those same regulations. See Rec. Doc. 1, ¶ 9. The Petitioner also asserts that because he is a sex offender, the Hearing Examiner intentionally withheld his superior academic achievements from consideration and engaged in an erroneous assessment and calculation computation. As relief, his petition seeks a new parole review hearing.

DISCUSSION

Standard of Review

28 U.S.C. § 2241 vests the federal district courts with jurisdiction to grant a Writ of Habeas Corpus to persons in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has routinely recognized that a federal court's review of a decision issued by the Parole Commission is limited to an "abuse of discretion" standard.

It is well-settled that "there is no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released before the expiration of a valid sentence." Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal & Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7 (1979). A federal district court needs only to consider whether the record provides a rational basis for the Parole Commission's ruling. Gambino v. Morris, 134 F.3d 156, 160 (3d Cir. 1998). The district court must ensure that the Parole Commission has followed appropriate criteria rational and consistent with its enabling status and that its "decisions are neither arbitrary and capricious nor based on impermissible considerations." Id. (citation omitted).

Furthermore, the Third Circuit has noted that, when the Parole Commission issues any written determinations, it "must reveal reasoning and not simply present conclusions, at least where the reasoning is not apparent from the facts of the case." Marshall v. Lansing, 839 F.2d 933, 943 (3d Cir. 1988) (emphasis in original); see also Greene v. United States Parole Comm'n, 749 F. Supp. 650, 654 (M.D. Pa. 1990). The court in Marshall added that "Congress has required the Commission to furnish a statement of reasons to the prisoner so that he can receive 'an understandable explanation of his parole status.'" Id. at 942 (citations omitted).

Two Different Base Point Scores

Petitioner's initial argument for relief contends that the Hearing Examiner who conducted his initial parole review assigned him a base point score of 6. However, Scott-El claims that a subsequent Notice of Action issued by the Parole Commission arbitrarily assigned him a base point score of 7. He concludes that the Parole Commission's increase in his base point score without explanation violated his constitutional rights.

The Parole Commission acknowledges that it issued a Notice of Action on February 19, 2003 that reported his base point score as being six (6) points. See Rec. Doc. 8, Ex. 5, p. 2. Respondents assert that this guideline calculation was inaccurate and note that a corrected Notice of Action issued on April 19, 2004 correctly assigned Petitioner a seven (7) point base point score. See id. at Ex. 6. The Respondents conclude that since the clerical and ...


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