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Ross v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole

July 7, 2010

BEDFORD ROSS, PETITIONER,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE, ET AL., RESPONDENTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane

MEMORANDUM

Bedford Ross ("Ross"), a Pennsylvania state inmate serving a sentence imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus on October 29, 2009, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the denial of parole. (Doc. No. 1, Pet.) Named as Respondent is the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole ("PBPP") and the Pennsylvania Attorney General. For the reasons that follow, the habeas relief requested will be denied.

I. Background

On September 26, 2006, the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County convicted Ross of the following charges: Firearms Not to be Carried without a License; Carrying Firearms in Public; Person not to Possess, Use, Manufacture, Control, Sell or Transfer Firearms, and Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Officers. (Doc. 11-2, Resp., Ex. 1.) On December 5, 2006, he was sentenced to serve three (3) to six (6) years imprisonment on the offense of Person not to Possess, Use, Manufacture, Control, Sell or Transfer Firearms, followed by four (4) years probation for Firearms not to be Carried without a License. No further sentence was imposed on the remaining convictions. (Id.)

On June 15, 2006, Ross was arrested on additional criminal charges including Contact/Communication with a Minor-Sexual Offenses, Indecent Assault W/O Consent of Other, Corruption of Minors, and Simple Assault. Ross pled guilty to Indecent Assault and Corruption of Minors in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. (Id., Ex. 2.) The remaining offenses were nolle prossed. He was sentenced to serve 11 months and 15 days to 23 months of confinement for Corruption of Minors, followed by two years probation for the Indecent Assault. (Id.)

The sentences for Person not to Possess, Use, Manufacture, Control, Sell or Transfer Firearms and for Corruption of Minors were aggregated. The minimum date for the sentence was August 16, 2009, and the maximum date is August 16, 2010. (Doc. No. 11-2, Ex. 3, Sentence Status Summary.) Ross was interviewed for parole on this sentence by the PBPP on April 8, 2009. A Notice of Action was recorded on April 16, 2009, stating that the Board was awaiting additional information regarding the details of the Indecent Assault incident, and therefore a decision regarding parole was pending. (Id., Ex. 4, Notice of Action.) Subsequent thereto, the information received by the PBPP was a Philadelphia Police Arrest Report/Affidavit of Probable Cause with respect to the underlying Indecent Assault incident. According to the report Ross grabbed the breast and buttocks of a 14 year old female on or about May 14, 2006. On May 29, 2006, Ross offered the same female money to "do it to her." (Id., Ex. 5, Police Arrest Report/Affidavit.) On July 22, 2009, the Board recorded an action denying Ross parole. (Doc. No. 11-2, Ex. 6, Notice of Action.) In support of the denial the PBPP stated as follows:

Following an interview with you and a review of your file, and having considered all matters required pursuant to the Parole Act, the Board of Probation and Parole, in the exercise of its discretion, has determined at this time that: you are denied parole/reparole. The reasons for the Board's decision include the following:

Your need to participate in and complete additional institutional programs. Your risk and needs assessment indicating your level of risk to the community. You are to be reviewed in or after April, 2010.

At your next interview, the Board will review your file and consider:

Whether you have successfully completed a treatment program for sex offenders.

Whether you have maintained a favorable recommendation for parole from the Department of Corrections.

Whether you have maintained a clear conduct record.

You may file an application for parole/reparole no sooner than 1 year after the date the last decision denying parole/reparole was recorded. (Id. at pp. 39-40.) Ross filed the present petition arguing that his due process and equal protection rights were violated with respect to the decision denying him parole. Specifically, he maintains that the Board has abused its authority by requiring him to participate in a sex ...


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