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Spruill v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

April 7, 2017

Joseph R. Spruill, Petitioner
v.
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, Respondent

          Submitted: March 17, 2017

          BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge HONORABLE JULIA K. HEARTHWAY, Judge HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Senior Judge

          OPINION

          DAN PELLEGRINI, Senior Judge

         Joseph R. Spruill (Parolee) petitions for review of the decision of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Board) denying his request for administrative relief from the Board's order recalculating his maximum sentence following his recommitment as a convicted parole violator (CPV). We affirm.

         I.

         Parolee is an inmate currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon (SCI-Huntingdon). On August 11, 2009, [1] following his guilty plea to carrying a firearm without a license, possession of a controlled substance and possession of an instrument of crime with intent, Parolee was resentenced by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court) to a term of two to four years. Because he previously pled guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in the United States District Court (district court) involving the same incident, [2] the trial court's sentence ran concurrent to a federal sentence[3] of 42 months imprisonment followed by 36 months supervised release.[4] The credited start date for both sentences was March 4, 2008, and Parolee was sent to a state correctional facility to serve his state sentence.[5]

         On May 20, 2010, Parolee was constructively paroled from SCI-Huntingdon to the federal detainer sentence to which his state conviction ran concurrent. Parolee remained under this federal detainer and then in a "Community Corrections Center [(CCC)] in Philadelphia under his federal sentence"[6] until April 20, 2011, when he began his federally-supervised release.

         On November 4, 2011, the Board was notified that Parolee had been arrested in New Jersey for possession with intent to deliver drugs, possession of a firearm, resisting arrest and aggravated assault. He did not post bail on these charges. On June 14, 2012, Parolee was sentenced by the Superior Court of New Jersey to a term of five years, consecutive to his federal sentence, with 235 days credit for time served - i.e., his arrest date on October 23, 2011, through June 14, 2012. The Board then issued a detainer for Parolee.[7] On November 13, 2015, New Jersey notified Pennsylvania that Parolee was going to be released on parole at the end of the month and provided a waiver of extradition. On the same day of his release, November 30, 2015, he was returned to Pennsylvania custody.

         On February 10, 2016, the Board recommitted Parolee as a CPV with 12 months backtime and a maximum sentence date of September 14, 2017. Parolee timely filed a pro se administrative appeal with the Board challenging the recalculation of his new maximum sentence date. As pertinent, Parolee contended:

I am appealing my green sheet due to miscalculated max date. . . . I was paroled [from the state conviction] on [May 20, 2010] to the concurrent federal sentence. . . . Then I returned back to PA Jurisdiction on March 22, 2011 to go to Liberty Management halfway house. . . . Then I was released from custody on April 20, 2011 to start [federal] supervised release and I started my [New Jersey] parole on [April 26, 2011].

(Certified Record (C.R.) at 101.) His administrative appeal was denied because Parolee automatically forfeited credit for the time while constructively paroled and, as a result, 654 days remained on his original sentence. This appeal followed.[8]

         II.

         On appeal, Parolee only contends that the Board erred by not counting against his state sentence the approximately 11 months' time he served under his federal sentence that the trial court stated was to run concurrently with his state sentence, instead treating that time as backtime because he was a convicted parole violator. The issue then is whether a person at liberty on constructive parole from an original sentence receives credit against that sentence by time served on his concurrent sentence, notwithstanding the fact that he was a convicted parole violator for his original sentence.

         A prisoner on constructive parole is paroled from his original sentence to immediately begin serving a new sentence. See Merritt v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 574 A.2d 597, 598 (Pa. 1990); Hines v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 420 A.2d 381, 383 (Pa. 1980). Where an individual has been constructively paroled, "he is nonetheless 'at liberty' from the original sentence from the time he begins to serve the new sentence." Bowman v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 709 A.2d 945, 948 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998). Under 61 Pa.C.S. ยง ...


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