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Minor v. Bickell

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 7, 2014

ALVIN MINOR, Petitioner,
v.
TABB BICKELL, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER[1]

CYNTHIA REED EDDY, Magistrate Judge.

I. Relevant Factual and Procedural History

Alvin Minor (Petitioner) brings this petition for writ of habeas corpus based on Constitutional violations relating to the conditions set on the grant of parole from his incarceration by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On May 6, 2008, Petitioner was sentenced to four to ten years of incarceration after pleading guilty to two counts of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. (ECF No. 9-1, page 6). Petitioner's maximum term of incarceration expires on April 9, 2016, and his minimum term of incarceration expired on April 9, 2010.

On June 28, 2000, in an unrelated case, Petitioner was convicted of Indecent Assault and Corruption of a Minor. ( Id. at 9). Petitioner completed the prescribed sentence and probation for that crime without re-offending. (ECF No. 4, page 4).

Since Petitioner's incarceration under the present Aggravated Assault conviction, Petitioner was reviewed for parole by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Parole Board) five times. (ECF No. 9-1 pages 18, 35-37, 135). Parole was denied for each of the first four applications. Each denial was accompanied with stated reasons, which included "[Petitioner's] need to participate in and complete additional institutional programs;" "the negative recommendation made by the Department of Corrections;" and "[Petitioner's] minimization/denial of the nature and circumstances of the offense(s) committed." (ECF No. 9-1 pages 35-37, 135). Notably, all four denials of parole included the following statement: "At your next interview, the Board will review your file and consider: Whether you have successfully participated in a treatment program for sex offenders." Id.

Upon evaluating Petitioner's fifth application for parole, the Parole Board granted parole. The Parole Board stated: "The reasons for the Board's decision include the following: Your current involvement in prescribed institutional programs. Your participation in and completion of prescribed institutional programs. Your positive institutional behavior...." (ECF No. 9-1, page 18). As a condition for parole, the Parole Board imposed several restrictions on Petitioner's post-parole behavior, including, inter alia, temperance from alcohol and illicit drugs, supervision by the parole office, and continued employment. Id. The Parole Board also imposed "all 14 standard special conditions for sex offenders." Id. Those restrictions include, for example, that "you must not form an intimate or romantic/sexual relationship with any person who has full or partial physical custody... of anyone under the age of 18 years...." Id.

The Parole Board relocated Petitioner to Progress Community Corrections Center on April 14, 2014, where he remains to date. (ECF No. 9-1 page 22). While housed in Progress Community Corrections Center, Petitioner is placed under "Special Conditions:... Placement in Sex Offender Program." Id. Petitioner is "paroled upon completion of programing as indicated by recent DOC assessment... any violation of the program rules or regulations may constitute a violation of parole and may result in sanctions and arrest." (ECF No. 9-1 page 18).

Before the Parole Board granted conditional parole on June 27, 2013, Petitioner pursued a Writ of Mandamus from Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, challenging the denial of parole and the conditions under which the Parole Board would grant parole. In his petition to the Pennsylvania courts, Petitioner raised the following issues:

A. Whether the Ex Post Facto Clause has been violated because Plaintiff has been disadvantaged by the retroactive application of new parole laws?
B. Whether the Parole board violated Due Process rights by acting arbitrarily, capriciously and vindictively in refusing parole for over two (2) years, three parole hearings?
C. Whether the Department of Probation and Parole violates the Double Jeopardy Clause by making the completion of Sex Offenders Treatment Program, in granting parole, contingent upon completion of Sex-Offenders Treatment on [an] expired case?

(ECF No. 4 page 4). The Commonwealth Court denied the petition. Id. Petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which on August 20, 2013, affirmed the decision of the lower court. (ECF No. 9-1, page 143). Petitioner now brings this petition for writ of habeas corpus.

II. Discussion

A. Review of ...


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