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Cullum v. Bledsoe

June 15, 2010

WILLIAM CULLUM, PETITIONER
v.
WARDEN BRIAN BLEDSOE, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

Petitioner William Cullum ("Cullum"), a federal inmate confined at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg ("USP-Lewisburg"), Pennsylvania, filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on December 4, 2009. (Doc. 1.) He contends that the decision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) regarding the length of his pre-release custody placement in a residential re-entry center ("RRC") runs afoul of the Second Chance Act of 2007.*fn1

The petition is presently ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be denied.

I. Background

Cullum was sentenced on October 28, 2004, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to an 87-month term of imprisonment for conspiracy to possess and distribute 50, 5, and 109 grams of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. (Doc. 8-2, at 51.) His projected release date is November 23, 2010, via good conduct time release. (Doc. 8-2, Declaration of Curt Rothermel ("Rothermel Decl."), BOP Case Manager at USP-Lewisburg, at 5, ¶ 5.)

On April 9, 2008, the Second Chance Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-199, Title II, § 251, 122 Stat. 657, 692 (the "Second Chance Act"), codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 3621, 3624, was signed into law. The Act increases the duration of pre-release placement in an RRC from six to twelve months and requires the BOP to make an individual determination that ensures that the placement be "of sufficient duration to provide the greatest likelihood of successful reintegration into the community." 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(6)(C) (Apr. 9, 2008). Thereafter, the BOP issued two guidance memoranda, dated April 14, 2008 (Doc. 8-2, at 10-13), and November 14, 2008, both of which required approval from the Regional Director for RRC placements of longer than six months. Interim regulations passed on October 21, 2008, state that "[i]nmates may be designated to community confinement as a condition of pre-release custody and programming during the final months of the inmate's term of imprisonment, not to exceed twelve months." 28 C.F.R. § 570.21(a). Moreover "[i]nmates will be considered for pre-release community confinement in a manner consistent with 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), determined on an individual basis, and of sufficient duration to provide the greatest likelihood of successful reintegration into the community, within the time-frames set forth in this part." 28 C.F.R. § 570.22 (Oct. 22, 2008).

Recommendations for RRC placement are ordinarily reviewed with the inmate and unit team seventeen to nineteen months prior to the inmate's probable release date. (Doc. 8-2, Rothermel Decl., at 5, ¶ 6.) Referrals are then forwarded to the Community Corrections Manager at least sixty days prior to the maximum recommended date. (Id. at ¶ 7, citing BOP Program Statement 7310.04, Community Corrections Center Utilization and Transfer Procedures.)

On July 23, 2009, Cullum was informed by his unit team that he would be recommended for an RRC placement of 150-180 days.*fn2 (Id. at 6, ¶ 9.) The Inmate Skills Development Plan generated on July 23, 2009, includes consideration of judicial recommendations, education and work data, discipline data, academic and vocational/career progress, interpersonal skills, wellness, mental health, personal character, manner in which leisure time was utilized, and daily living skills. (Doc. 8-2, at 51-64.) It was found that significant attention was required in the areas of vocational/career development, wellness, character, leisure and daily living. (Id. at 64.)

According to the case manager, the RRC recommendation "was based on Cullum's current and past offenses/behavior; noting that Cullum has a lengthy disciplinary record [ ]; available resources within the release district, noting that Cullum previously resided with his brother and is quite familiar with the release area, along with having a strong support system; financial planning, noting that although Cullum is destitute, he has some college and he has received SSI benefits, along with supporting himself as an artist." (Doc. 8-2, Rothermel Decl. at 6, ¶ 11.) "In addition, it was noted and taken into consideration that Cullum was expelled from the 500 Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program on November 17, 2008, for the use of tobacco." (Doc. 8-2, Rothermel Decl., at ¶ 12.)

Conversely, Cullum indicates that his brother no longer lives in the release district, that his strong family support system consists of friends, none of whom can be relied upon for shelter, employment, or medical care, and that he has never earned more then $2000.00 per year as an artist. (Doc. 13, at 21.)

On September 21, 2009, the Warden approved Cullum's RRC placement of 120-180 days, rather than 150-180 days, to allow the RRC flexibility with placement. (Id. at 6, ¶ 10, n.2.) The Corrections Case Manager ("CCM") consulted with the RRC contractor to determine the length of placement time based on the inmate's needs and bed space. (Id. at ¶ 15.) Cullum was afforded 120 days in RRC placement and is scheduled to be transferred to an RRC placement on July 27, 2010. (Doc. 1, at 25.)

Prior to filing the instant petition, Cullum fully exhausted his administrative remedies. (Doc. 1, at 24-25, ¶ 4.31.)

II. Discussion

Section 2241 "confers jurisdiction on district courts to issue writs of habeas corpus in response to a petition from a state or federal prisoner who 'is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.' " Coady v. Vaughn, 251 F.3d 480, 484 (3d Cir. 2001). The federal habeas statute also requires that the petitioner be in custody "under the conviction or sentence under attack at the time his petition is filed." Lee v. Stickman, 357 F.3d 338, 342 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490-91, 109 S.Ct. 1923, 104 L.Ed.2d 540 (1989)). Section 2241, unlike other federal habeas statutes, "confers habeas jurisdiction to hear the petition of a federal prisoner who is challenging not the validity but the execution of his sentence," Coady, 251 F.3d at 485. (quoting 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 2241(a) and (c) (3)). This ...


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