The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter
Pending before the Court is Petitioner Paul Reno Livingood's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which he has filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.*fn2 He challenges the calculation of his Good Conduct Time ("GCT") credits.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the petition.
A. Relevant Statutory, Regulatory, and Policy Background
The conduct connected with Petitioner's federal offenses was deemed to have concluded on August 15, 2006. Accordingly, the computation of his GCT is governed by the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), which applies to inmates whose offenses were committed on or after April 26, 1996.
The PLRA contains two literary provisions. The first is mandatory. Codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3624(f), it requires the Bureau of Prisons (the "Bureau" or the "BOP") "to have in effect a mandatory functional literacy program for all mentally capable inmates who are not functionally literate in each Federal correctional institution." It further requires that each program "shall include a requirement that each inmate participate in such program for a mandatory period sufficient to provide the inmate with an adequate opportunity to achieve functional literacy, and appropriate incentives which lead to successful completion of such programs shall be developed and implemented." 18 U.S.C. § 3624(f). In its implementing regulations, the Bureau requires an inmate "who does not have a verified General Education Development (GED) credential or a high school diploma" to "attend an adult literacy program for a minimum of 240 instructional hours or until a GED is achieved, whichever occurs first." 28 C.F.R. § 544.70.
The second provision is non-mandatory. It is codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1), and it provides, in relevant part:
[A] prisoner who is serving a term of imprisonment of more than 1 year[,] . may receive credit toward the service of the prisoner's sentence, beyond the time served, of up to 54 days at the end of each year of the prisoner's term of imprisonment, beginning at the end of the first year of the term, subject to determination by the Bureau of Prisons that, during that year, the prisoner has displayed exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations. [I]f the Bureau determines that, during that year, the prisoner has not satisfactorily complied with such institutional regulations, the prisoner shall receive no such credit toward service of the prisoner's sentence or shall receive such lesser credit as the Bureau determines to be appropriate. In awarding credit under this section, the Bureau shall consider whether the prisoner, during the relevant period, has earned, or is making satisfactory progress toward earning, a high school diploma or an equivalent degree. Credit that has not been earned may not later be granted. Subject to paragraph (2), credit for the last year or portion of a year of the term of imprisonment shall be prorated and credited within the last six weeks of the sentence.
18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1) (emphasis added).
The Bureau's relevant rules implementing § 3624(b)(1) are at 28 C.F.R. § 523.20(c). This regulation provides, in relevant part, that for PLRA inmates the Bureau will award:
(1) 54 days credit for each year served (prorated when the time served by the inmate for the sentence during the year is less than a full year) if the inmate has earned or is making satisfactory progress toward earning a GED credential or high school diploma; or
(2) 42 days credit for each year served (prorated when the time served by the inmate for the sentence during the year is less than a full year) if the inmate has not earned or is not making satisfactory progress toward earning a GED credential or high school diploma.
28 C.F.R. § 523.20(c) (emphasis added).
The Bureau explains what will constitute "satisfactory progress toward earning a GED credential
or high school diploma" for a PLRA inmate in 28 C.F.R. § 544.73, and also explains what will occur if the inmate is found not to be making "satisfactory progress": (b)(1) For the purposes of 18 U.S.C. 3624, an inmate subject to . the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA) shall be deemed to be making satisfactory progress toward earning a GED credential or high school diploma unless and until the inmate receives a progress assignment confirming that:
(i) The inmate refuses to enroll in the literacy program;
(ii) The inmate has been found to have committed a prohibited act that occurred in a literacy program during the last 240 instructional hours of the inmate's most recent enrollment in the literacy program; or
(iii) The inmate has withdrawn from the literacy program.
(2) When an inmate subject to . [the] PLRA receives a progress assignment indicating that the inmate is not making satisfactory progress, the assignment shall be changed to indicate satisfactory progress only after the inmate is currently and continuously enrolled in a literacy program for a minimum of 240 instructional hours. Any further withdrawal or finding that the inmate has committed a prohibited act in a literacy program during the last 240 instructional hours of the inmate's most recent enrollment in the literacy program shall result in a ...