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Ramirez v. Miner

June 25, 2007

MARC RAMIREZ, PETITIONER
v.
JONATHAN C. MINER, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM

Background

This pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241was initiated by Marc Ramirez ("Petitioner"), an inmate presently confined at the Allenwood Low Security Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania ("LSCIAllenwood"). Named as sole Respondent is LSCI-Allenwood Warden Jonathan C. Miner.

Petitioner does not challenge the legality of his underlying criminal conviction or sentence. Rather, his petition seeks an immediate transfer to a Community Corrections Center ("CCC"). Specifically, Ramirez states that his projected release date is December 26, 2007. On December 18, 2006, Petitioner submitted a written request to his LSCI-Allenwood Case Manager Dan Thomas asking that he be considered for immediate placement in a CCC. The Case Manager allegedly told Petitioner that because the prisoner had "resources," he did not require "more than three (3) months of CCC placement."*fn1 Record document no. 1, p. 2. Case Manager Thomas purportedly added that the Petitioner was not eligible for CCC designation until June 26, 2007, six (6) months prior to his scheduled release date. Ramirez generally argues that the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") failed to adequately consider "the resources of the facility contemplated" and "the history and characteristics of the prisoner" in making CCC related determinations. Id. at p. 3. Ramirez contends that the BOP's disposition of his request for CCC placement was improper because it failed to consider that he: (1) was unable to finish his college degree; (2) lacks an official photo ID; (3) has received little help in developing employment prospects; (4) has little family and community contact at his present place of incarceration; (5) requires dental care; (6) re-familiarize himself with New York City (his intended place of residence) ; and (7) may not be able to live with his children and their mother. Petitioner concludes by asserting that he is entitled to immediate CCC placement under the standards announced by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Woodall v. Lindsay, 432 F.3d 235 (3d Cir. 2005).

Following service of the petition, the Respondent filed a response arguing that the petition should be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.*fn2

In the alternative, the Respondent contended that Ramirez was not entitled to relief because he does not have a constitutional right to serve the remainder of his sentence in a CCC and that decisions regarding his place of confinement are within the sole discretion of the BOP.

By Order dated May 31, 2007, this Court directed the Respondent to submit a supplemental response which addressed the question of whether Ramirez is entitled to relief under Woodall. Respondent timely submitted a supplemental response and Ramirez subsequently filed a reply. Consequently, this matter is now ripe for consideration.

Discussion Exhaustion

The Respondent's initial argument is that Ramirez's petition should not be entertained because he failed to exhaust his available BOP administrative remedies. Petitioner counters that he should be excused from the exhaustion requirement due to the nature of his claims and time restraints.

It is initially noted that in Woodall, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recognized that claims such as those raised in the present petition are properly asserted in a habeas corpus petition because they regard the execution of the applicant's sentence. See Woodall, 432 F.3d at 237. Second, the Court of Appeals in Woodall also held that "the purposes of exhaustion would not be served" by requiring exhaustion of administrative remedies in cases such as the present case where the Petitioner is challenging the validity of BOP regulations. Id. at 239, n. 2. It agreed with the district court's assessment that pursuit of BOP administrative remedies in such cases would be futile. Based on the rationale set forth in Woodall, the Respondent's non-exhaustion argument is not compelling and Ramirez will be excused from compliance with the administrative exhaustion requirement.

Merits

Respondent argues that the petition should be dismissed because the Petitioner does not have a constitutional right to serve the remainder of his sentence in a CCC. Furthermore, habeas corpus relief is also not appropriate because the BOP considered all of the § 3621(b) factors in making its recommendation that Ramirez be provided with a 150 to 180 day CCC placement.

The following facts are undisputed. Ramirez is presently serving a 235 month sentence following his conviction on drug related charges. The sentence was imposed in 1991. Petitioner is presently scheduled for release on December 26, 2007 via good conduct time release. Following a February, 2006 program review, Ramirez was informed by his unit team that he would be recommended for a June, 2007 transfer to a CCC. During December, 2006, Petitioner made a written request to his Case Manager seeking immediate placement in a CCC. On January 10, 2007, Ramirez filed a habeas corpus petition with this Court. A referral recommending that Petitioner be provided with a 150-180 day CCC placement was made on behalf of the Petitioner in February, 2007. On April 27, 2007, the Petitioner was notified that he had been accepted into a CCC with a report date of July 3, 2007. As a result, Ramirez will serve just under 180 days in a CCC.

It is well-settled that a prisoner has no justifiable expectation that he will be incarcerated in a particular prison or facility. Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238 (1983). With respect to federal prisoners, the BOP has the power, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), "to designate the place of confinement for purposes of serving" sentences of imprisonment. Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476 (3d Cir. 1991). ยง 3621(b) also lists factors for consideration in making placement and transfer determinations. The factors ...


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