United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge.
before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
filed by state prisoner John Patrick Garrison (the
"Petitioner") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
[ECF Nos. 3]. He challenges the decision made by the
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (the
"Board") to deny him parole. For the reasons set
forth below, the petition is denied and a certificate of
appealability is denied.
February 18, 2011, the Petitioner was sentenced in the Court
of Common Pleas of Venango County at criminal docket
CP-61-CR-861-2010 to a term of 9 months to 1.5 years of
incarceration on a count of False Alarms. Later that same
year, on October 31, 2011, he was sentenced at criminal
docket CP-61-CR-64-2011 to a term of incarceration of: (1) 1
year and 3 months to 5 years on a count of Endangering
Welfare of Children; and (2) 1 to 5 years on a count of
Corruption of Minors. (Resp's Ex. 1).
addition to establishing an offender's minimum and
maximum terms when imposing a sentence of total confinement,
the sentencing judge in a Pennsylvania court is also required
to make a determination as to the offender's eligibility
for the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive
("RRRI") program. Commonwealth v. Hansley,
47 A.3d 1180, 1187 (Pa. 2012); Commonwealth v.
Robinson, 7 A.3d 868 (Pa.Super.Ct. 2010). The intent of
the RRRI program is to encourage "eligible
offenders" in the custody of the Department of
Corrections ("DOC") "to participate in and
successfully complete evidence-based programs under this
chapter that reduce the likelihood of recidivism and improve
public safety." 61 Pa.C.S. § 4504(b). If an
offender is an "eligible offender, " the sentencing
court at the time of sentencing will impose a minimum and
maximum sentence as required by 42 Pa.C.S. § 9752
(relating to sentencing proceeding generally) and also impose
a RRRI minimum sentence.
case, the Petitioner's minimum sentence expiration date
for his aggregated sentence was July 3, 2014. The sentencing
court found that he was RRRI eligible and his RRRI minimum
sentence expiration date was October 3, 2013. His maximum
sentence date is April 3, 2022. (Resp's Ex. 1).
RRRI minimum sentence date approached, the Board considered
whether the Petitioner should be paroled. On October 1, 2013,
it issued a decision in which it denied him parole.
(Resp's Ex. 2). In the event that an offender has been
sentenced to a RRRI minimum sentence and is not paroled
pursuant to the RRRI program, the Board retains its
traditional powers of parole and reparole as provided in
Chapter 61 of the Prisons and Parole Code. 61 Pa.C.S. §
4507 ("If an inmate has been sentenced by a court to a
recidivism risk reduction incentive minimum sentence and the
inmate is not paroled under this chapter, the board may grant
parole. Except as otherwise provided under this chapter, the
board shall retain its power and authority to parole, commit
and reparole inmates committed to the department.")
Board considered the Petitioner for parole on three
subsequent occasions and on each occasion it denied him
parole. (Resp's Exs. 3, 4 and 5). It issued its most
recent decision on June 17, 2016, and informed the Petitioner
Following an interview with you and a review of your file,
and having considered all matters required pursuant to the
Board of Probation and Parole, [the Board] in the exercise of
its discretion, has determined at this time that: you are
denied parole/reparole. The reasons for the Board's
decision include the following:
Your risk and needs assessment indicating your level of risk
to the community.
The negative recommendation made by the Department of
Your minimization/denial of the nature and circumstances of