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Lance Thomas v. Superintendent Raymond Lawler and Pennsylvania Attorney General

April 9, 2012

LANCE THOMAS PETITIONER
v.
SUPERINTENDENT RAYMOND LAWLER AND PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mannion, M.J.

(CAPUTO, D.J.)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER*fn1

On December 3, 2010, Petitioner Lance Thomas ("Thomas") filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 . (Doc. No. 1). For the reasons set forth below, the court will appoint the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Pennsylvania as counsel for the petitioner, and direct further briefing by the parties on the issues that follow.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 3, 2010, Thomas filed the instant habeas petition (along with supporting exhibits) arguing that his substantive due process rights were violated because he has a protected liberty interest in being released on parole; and also that his equal protection rights were violated because he was classified as a sex offender. (Doc. No. 1 at 5, 11 and 17). On March 14, 2011, respondents filed a reply to the petition, along with supporting exhibits. (Doc. No. 11). No traverse was filed.

II. DISCUSSION

1. Facts

In 1992, Thomas plead guilty to rape, burglary and corruption of minors. He was released on parole, but in 1999, he plead guilty to a probation violation and had his parole revoked. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years imprisonment - this results in a current maximum date of September 25, 2014.

On May 18, 2010, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (hereinafter "the parole board") granted petitioner parole, based on a condition including, among many other conditions, that he be placed in a Specialized Community Corrections Center ("CCC").

On October 25, 2010, Thomas received a letter from Jack Sommers, the Director of the Bureau of Community Corrections for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. The letter reads, in salient part:

As you know a BCC referral was received and rejected as problematic by the Regional Office on 6/21/10. You need to speak with your Unit Management Team and Parole staff regarding your situation. You have a serious offense in your history which doesn't make you an above average candidate for a Community Corrections Center.

Region 1 has very few "regular" sex offender group room beds for placement of cases such as yours. However, currently there are no State "Specialized" Centers in Region 1 at this time that house[] individuals with your type of previous offense. A cross regional referral is possible, but the waiting list is very long and only a percentage of cases such as yours are placed in a specialized CCC at one time.

You should be working with parole on attempting to get released directly to the community with an approved ...


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