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Hugel v. Bledsoe

May 18, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Christopher C. Conner United States District Judge

(Judge Conner)


Presently ripe for disposition is the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by federal inmate Bryan Hugel ("Hugel") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) He is proceeding pro se. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed.

I. Background

Hugel was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine. (Doc. 6-2, Declaration of Drug Abuse Treatment Coordinator, Dr. Richard Williams, Psy. D., ("Williams Decl.") at 3-4, ¶ 4.) He is presently serving a thirty-month prison term. (Id.) His projected release date, via good conduct, is September 28, 2009. (Id.) Upon release, he will commence service of a three year term of supervision.

On September 10, 2007, while confined at that Satellite Prison Camp at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Hugel signed an agreement expressing his interest in participating in a Federal Bureau of Prisons Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program ("RDAP"). There are three phases to this program. The first phase is the residential unit-based component which lasts a minimum of 500 hours, over a six to twelve-month period. (Doc. 6-2, Williams Decl. at 4, ¶ 6.) The second phase provides for institutional transitional services to assist an inmate to reintegrate into the general prison population, time permitting. (Id.) The final phase is the community-based transitional services program. (Id. at ¶ 7.) "Successful completion of the RDAP entails successful completion of the unit-based portion of the drug treatment program and applicable transitional services components." (Id.)

The agreement to participate states that "[a]ll program participants agree to refrain from any behavior disruptive to the program or to the participants and staff of the program." (Doc. 6-2, at 8, 9.) Hugel was accepted into the program on September 26, 2007, and assigned to Group 13. If he successfully completed the program, he would be transferred to a Residential Re-entry Center (RRC) on July 2, 2008. (Doc. 6-2, Williams Decl., at 5, ¶ 11.) However, Hugel did not complete the program. Rather, according to the Drug Abuse Treatment Coordinator, the following incident resulted in his removal from the program:

12. On Sunday, December 23, 2007, staff at the USP Lewisburg satellite camp received information that inmate Hugel had placed a phone call to his wife and discussed the introduction through the visiting room of something they referred to as "caps". Inmate Hugel instructed his wife to put "caps" into two soda bottles which he would consume "just like before." Staff are aware that inmate[s] frequently use this type of coded language when attempting to arrange the introduction of contraband into the institution. The petitioner's wife and three other individuals visited with Hugel that same day from 10:50 am to 2:45 pm.

13. When inmate Hugel was released from the visiting room, a visual search was conducted with negative results. However, staff noted that Hugel's entire body had a "reddish tint" as if he were warm

14. Staff prepared the necessary paperwork for a Urine Analysis test to be administered to the inmate. At approximately 6:20 pm, staff escorted inmate Hugel to the Officer's station for the urinanalysis test. The initial test results were positive for what appeared to be methamphetamines. The evening watch Operations Lieutenant was notified and the decision was made to secure inmate Hugel in the holdover unit pending the official results of the test. [Citation omitted.]

(Doc. 6-2, Williams Decl., at 5-6.) The official test results were "inconclusive." (Id. at 6, ¶ 15.) "Although inmate Hugel did not receive a formal disciplinary incident report based on the inconclusive lab report, based on the information staff had regarding his apparent attempts to introduce contraband to the facility, RDAP staff (in consultation with the RDAP Coordinator) made the decision to remove inmate Hugel from the program as his actions were clearly not representative of a participant's sincere attempts to change their criminal thinking and substance abuse patterns. On January 15, 2008, inmate Hugel was expelled from the RDAP program." (Id. at ¶ 17.)

On May 8, 2008, BOP regional staff requested that the decision to remove Hugel from the program be reconsidered. (Id. at ¶ 18.) The following day, RDAP staff met with Hugel and recommended that he be placed in "'group 16' which was consistent with the point in the program at which Hugel was removed." (Id. at ¶ 20.) Hugel indicated that he would like to discuss the proposal with his family. He informed staff on May 22, 2008, that he would not be returning to the program. (Id.) "RDAP staff counseled the inmate to continue to take advantage of non-residential drug counseling services offered by the prison and advised him that if he had a 'high level of participation in non-residential services' staff would recommend to his Unit Team that he be submitted for a 180 day placement in a Residential Re-Entry Center." (Doc. 6-2, at 6-7, ¶ 20, referencing the administrative note found at Doc. 6-2, at 14.)

Hugel filed the instant petition on May 30, 2008, essentially arguing that the BOP's decision to expel him from the RDAP program failed to meet minimum procedural due process requirements and was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion. (Doc. 1 at 16, ¶¶ 6.0-6.2.)

In response, respondent argues that Hugel's petition should be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. An inmate may challenge any aspect of his or her confinement using the Bureau of Prison's ("BOP") administrative remedy procedure, which is set forth at 28 C.F.R. §§ 542 et seq. To exhaust administrative remedies, an inmate first must informally present his complaint to staff, and staff shall attempt to informally resolve any issue before an inmate files a request for administrative relief. 28 C.F.R. § 542.13(a). If unsuccessful at informal resolution, the inmate may raise his complaint with the warden of the institution where he is confined. Id. at §542.14(a). If dissatisfied with the response, he may then appeal an adverse decision to the ...

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