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Williams v. United States Parole Commission

July 8, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Caldwell)


I. Introduction

Petitioner, Chris Williams, an inmate at the Allenwood Lower Security Corrections Institution (LSCI-Allenwood) at White Deer, Pennsylvania, has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He has named as the respondent the United States Parole Commission. Petitioner believes that the Commission failed to give him credit on his federal sentence for the time he spent in state custody, even though it stated that it would grant him the credit. As relief, he requests an order directing the Commission to issue a new Notice of Action notifying the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that the Commission credited Petitioner with time spent in state custody so that the BOP can calculate the correct mandatory release date.

Petitioner believes that he is entitled to immediate release if this credit is properly applied.

We agree with Respondent that Petitioner has confused credit for the purpose of calculating parole eligibility with credit for the purpose calculating how much time he must spend in prison. The Commission decided that Petitioner would not be paroled and that he would be continued until his fifteen-year reconsideration hearing or until he was released upon expiration of his sentence, whichever came first. Petitioner does not contest the grounds for this decision. Hence the Petition will be denied.

II. Background

The parties' submissions reveal the following. Petitioner pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York to one count of a RICO conspiracy, which included the distribution of drugs, and a separate count of conspiracy, also to distribute drugs.*fn1 As part of a plea agreement, Petitioner's sentence was to be twenty years on the RICO count and twenty-five years on the drug-conspiracy count, to run concurrently. (Doc. 1, habeas petition, CM/ECF pp. 11, 12).*fn2 In October 1993, Williams was sentenced in accord with the plea agreement. These sentences were to run consecutively to sentences Petitioner was already serving in New York and Maryland. (Id., p. 11).

On April 6, 2004, the sentencing judge granted Williams' motion to correct an illegal sentence by reducing the sentence on the drug-conspiracy conviction to five years and running it consecutively to the twenty-year sentence on the RICO conspiracy count, (id., p. 15), "ultimately yield[ing] the same 25 year sentence" required by the plea agreement. (Id., p. 12).

Petitioner appears to have been in state custody from July 21, 1987, until he entered federal custody on May 21, 1999.*fn3

The Commission conducted an initial parole hearing on April 13, 2000. (Doc. 10-2, pp. 7-9).*fn4 The panel rated the severity of Williams' offenses as Category Eight, with a salient factor score (SFS) of three, yielding a parole guideline range of 180 months.

(Id., p. 7). See 28 C.F.R. § 2.20.*fn5 Williams "did not contest the total SFS nor the severity level nor the guidelines." (Id.) When considering Williams' risk to society, the panel concluded that the instant offense "as well as three convictions for robbery that occurred in 77 (two) and in 1981 the subject does appear to be a more serious risk than reflected by the 3 SFS." (Id., p. 8). The panel also noted that since Williams' convictions in July 85 and July 87 were "related to the instant offense . . . it appears that [Williams] should receive credit for the time spent in custody since 9/10/90. As of today's hearing this will give [Williams] a total of 115 months." (Id., p. 9). As the panel also observed: "You have been in state and federal confinement as a result of your behavior for a total of 115 months as of 4-10-2000." (Id., p. 10).*fn6

On May 6, 2000, the Commission issued a Notice of Action (NOA) which ordered "[c]ontinue to a Fifteen-Year Reconsideration Hearing in April 2015 or continue to expiration, whichever comes first." (Id., p. 10).*fn7 The Commission explained that "[a]fter review of all relevant factors and information presented, a decision exceeding the lower limit of the applicable guideline category by more than 48 months is warranted based on the following pertinent aggravating factors: You supplied the weapon (gun) to the individuals who stalked and eventually shot and killed Mr. Rooney, the State Parole Officer, as he was driving his vehicle away from work." (Id.) Williams was advised that he would be scheduled for a statutory interim hearing during the docket immediately preceding completion of his minimum term, and his right to appeal the decision. (Id.) Williams did not file an administrative appeal.

The Commission conducted a statutory interim hearing on February 5, 2008. (Id. pp. 12-14). Williams' statutory release date was noted as March 1, 2014, and his full term date was noted as May 20, 2024. (Id., p. 12). After reviewing Williams' conduct during the intervening period, as well as his program achievement, the panel decided to make no change in the prior decision that he serve to a fifteen-year reconsideration hearing in April 2015, or the expiration of his sentence, whichever came first. (Id., p. 14). On February 22, 2008, the Commission issued a Notice of Action to that effect. (Id., p. 15). The NOA advised Williams that he would be scheduled for another statutory interim hearing in February 2010 and that he could appeal the Commission's decision. (Id.).

Petitioner appealed the NOA to the National Appeals Board, arguing that the Commission had failed to give him credit for the time he had spent in state custody. In a Notice of Action on Appeal, dated July ...

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