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Wolters v. Thomas

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 12, 2014

ANDREW WOLTERS, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN THOMAS, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM

RICHARD P. CONABOY, District Judge.

Background

Andrew Wolters, a prisoner presently confined at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (USP-Lewisburg) filed this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Named as Respondent is USP-Lewisburg Warden Thomas.[1]

Petitioner states that he is presently serving a sentence which was imposed by the United States District Court for the Central District of California.[2] His pending action does not challenge the legality of his criminal conviction or the resulting sentence.

According to the Petition, on or about March 28, 2012, Wolters learned that administrative sanctions had been imposed against him for not making payments pursuant to the Bureau of Prisons' Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP). See Doc. 1, Ground One. Relying on Soroka v. Daniels , 467 F.Supp.2d. 1097 (D. Or. 2006), Petitioner argues that the imposition of the IFRP in his case was improper because the sentencing court had not amended its restitution order.

The Petition next asserts that Petitioner was issued a falsified misconduct charge, Incident Report (IR) 2262689, on or about February 1, 2012 which accused him of possession of a weapon. See id., Ground Two. Wolters alleges that the charge was issued in retaliation after he complained that prison employees had stolen items of his personal property.

Petitioner's third contention maintains that he was issued a second false incident report on or about February 21, 2012 which accused him of bribery. After being found guilty of this charge he was allegedly given sanctions which included a loss of good time credits. See id., Ground Three.

Wolters' fourth claim states that he was issued another meritless disciplinary charge on May 9, 2012 charging him with extortion and insolence. After being found guilty Petitioner was sanctioned to further loss of good time credits.

Discussion

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).

IFRP

The IFRP encourages federal prisoners to meet their financial responsibilities by entering into a contractual payment schedule developed for the inmate with the assistance of BOP staff. An inmate's failure to participate in this program or to make agreed payments can affect his or her eligibility for participation in various BOP programs and may be considered for purposes of parole review.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has recognized that an IFRP related claim sounds in habeas corpus. See Pinet v. Grondolsky, 345 Fed.Appx. 805, 806 (3d Cir. 2009) (when an inmate "challenges the execution of his sentence by claiming that the BOP acted unlawfully in establishing a payment schedule regarding the imposed fine, the claim falls squarely within the purview of a section 2241 petition."); Millegan v. Martinez, 2010 WL 174873 *1 (M. D. Pa. Jan. 12, 2010) (Caputo, J.). Accordingly, this Court concurs that Wolters' claims regarding the IFRP are properly raised under § 2241.

It is initially noted that Soroka is not binding on this Court. More importantly, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has recognized that the IFRP is constitutional. See Pinet 345 Fed.Appx. at 807 (reaffirming the constitutionality of the IFRP); James v. Quinlan , 866 F.2d 627, 630-31 (3d Cir. 1989). Thus, since those determinations by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals are binding on this ...


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