The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard P. Conaboy United States District Judge
Background Mario L. Gordon, an inmate presently confined at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisbug, Pennsylvania (USP-Lewisburg), filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Named as Respondent is USP-Lewisburg Warden B.
A. Bledsoe. Service of the petition was previously ordered. It is undisputed that while confined at USP-Lewisburg,
Gordon was issued an incident report by Correctional Officer S. Hoffa on August 4, 2011 which charged him with threatening and refusing to obey an order.*fn1 A disciplinary hearing was conducted on September 20, 2011 at which Gordon was found guilty of both charges and given institutional sanctions including a loss of good conduct time.
Petitioner's pending action asserts that the charges were falsified and only issued to justify his placement in ambulatory restraints. The Petition next claims that when a USP-Lewisburg prisoner refuses to accept an incompatible cellmate, prison officials routinely issue the offending inmate a falsified incident report which accuses that prisoner of threatening someone. Gordon further contends that CO Hoffa's testimony at his disciplinary hearing differed from Hoffa's earlier description of the events at issue. See Doc. 1, p. 2. However, the presiding Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) was allegedly biased because he refused to review the written conflicting versions provided by Hoffa when Petitioner presented those documents during the course of his misconduct hearing.
A response to the Petition asserts that Petitioner is not entitled to federal habeas corpus relief because he failed to fully exhaust his available administrative remedies and Gordon's due process rights were not violated during the challenged disciplinary proceedings. See Doc. 9, p. 2.
Habeas corpus review under § 2241 "allows a federal prisoner to challenge the 'execution' of his sentence." Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235, 241 (3d Cir. 2005). A habeas corpus petition may be brought by a prisoner who seeks to challenge either the fact or duration of his confinement in prison. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), Telford v. Hepting, 980 F.2d 745, 748 (3d Cir. 1993). Federal habeas corpus review is available only "where the deprivation of rights is such that it necessarily impacts the fact or length of detention." Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d Cir. 2002). Since it is undisputed that Gordon was sanctioned to a loss of good time credits which adversely affected the duration of his ongoing federal confinement, his present allegations are appropriate for federal habeas corpus review.
It is well established that a federal prisoner must exhaust available administrative remedies before seeking habeas corpus relief in federal court. Moscato v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 98 F.3d 757, 760 (3d Cir. 1996); Ridley v. Smith, 179 Fed. Appx. 109, 111 (3d Cir. 2006). A party is required to exhaust administrative remedies before seeking relief in federal court unless Congress has indicated to the contrary or the available administrative remedies are inherently inadequate. Young v. Quinlan, 960 F.2d 351, 356 (3d Cir. 1992). However, the administrative exhaustion requirement may be excused if an attempt to obtain relief would be futile or where the purposes of exhaustion would not be served. See Cerverizzo v. Yost, 380 Fed. Appx. 115, 116 (3d Cir. 2010).
In a subsequent ruling, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a § 2241 petition that had been filed before administrative remedies had been exhausted. Ridley v. Smith, 179 Fed. Appx. 109, 111 (3d Cir. 2006). Unless it would be futile to pursue administrative remedies, courts have rejected attempts to obtain judicial relief by prisoners who have disregarded the administrative remedy process. See Ramsey v. United States, No. Civ. 1:CV-05-1476, 2006 WL 1412767 at *1 (M.D. Pa. May 22, 2006)(Caldwell, J.); Porte v. Warden, FCI-Allenwood, No. Civ. 4:CV-04-1534, 2006 WL 47654 at *3-5 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 9, 2006)(Jones, J.); Lyons v. U.S. Marshals, 840 F.2d 202, 205 (3d Cir. 1988) (exhaustion is only excused where pursuit of administrative remedies would be futile, the agency's actions clearly and unambiguously violate statutory or constitutional rights, or the administrative procedures would be inadequate to prevent irreparable harm).
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has a well established Administrative Remedy Program whereby a federal prisoner may seek review of any aspect of his imprisonment including appeals from adverse disciplinary hearing decisions. See 28 C.F.R. §§ 542.10-542.19. With respect to disciplinary hearing decision appeals, a BOP inmate can initiate the first step of the administrative review process by filing a direct written appeal (thus bypassing the institutional level of review) to the BOP's Regional Director within twenty (20) days after receiving the DHO's written report. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.15(a).
If not satisfied with the Regional Director's response, a Central Office Appeal may than be filed with the BOP's Office of General Counsel. This is the prisoner's final available administrative appeal. Additionally, if the inmate does not receive a response within the time allotted for reply, including extension, ...