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Ralston v. Department of Parole & Probation

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 7, 2015

JOHN W. RALSTON, JR., Petitioner,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF PAROLE & PROBATION, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MAUREEN P. KELLY, Chief Magistrate Judge.

John W. Ralston, Jr. ("Petitioner"), a state prisoner, proceeding pro se, has filed what he captioned as a "LETTER PERTITIONER [sic] REQUEST FOR A HABEAS CORPUS", ECF No. 1, which the Court construes as a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the "Petition"). ECF No. 1. By means of the Petition, he apparently seeks to challenge the denial of parole based upon his refusal to admit his guilt for sexual crimes, where the convictions for those crimes became final long ago, and also apparently seeks to challenge the taking away of his Z-Code status, which permits him to have a cell by himself.

As to the denial of parole, Petitioner does not carry his burden to show entitlement to federal habeas relief. Because Petitioner cannot challenge the taking away of his Z-Code status by means of a habeas petition, that claim will be dismissed as non-cognizable.

I. FACTUAL HISTORY

Petitioner is currently serving a sentence of 22 ½ to 45 years for two counts of Involuntary Sexual Deviate Intercourse and one count of Incest.

Petitioner first became eligible for parole in 2012, and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole ("the Board") denied Petitioner parole on February 14, 2012. The Board provided the following reasons for its denial decision:
YOUR NEED TO PARTICIPATE AND COMPLETE ADDITIONAL INSTITUTIONAL PROGRAMS.
YOUR INSTITUTIONAL BEHAVIOR, INCLUDING REPORTED MISCONDUCTS.
THE NEGATIVE RECOMMENDATION MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS.
REPORTS, EVALUATIONS, AND ASSESSMENTS/LEVEL OF RISK INDICATES YOUR RISK TO THE COMMUNITY.
YOUR FAILURE TO DEMONSTRATE MOTIVATION FOR SUCCESS. YOUR MINIMIZATION/DENIAL OF THE NATURE AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE OFFENSE(S) COMMITTED.
YOUR LACK OF REMORSE FOR THE OFFENSE(S) COMMITTED.

ECF No. 7-3. In addition, the Board indicated to Petitioner that at his next parole application and hearing, the Board would consider whether he successfully completed a treatment program for sex offenders; whether he received a favorable recommendation from the Department of Corrections and whether he received a clear conduct record. Id.

Petitioner then applied for parole a second time and on March 6, 2013, the Board again declined to release Petitioner on parole. The Board provided the ...


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