United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO United States District Judge
Frankie Thomas, a federal inmate formerly confined at the
Canaan United States Penitentiary in Waymart, Pennsylvania
(“USP-Canaan”) filed the instant petition for
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on
January 23, 2017. (Doc. No. 1.) Thomas alleges that the
restitution order by this Court constitutes an impermissible
delegation of authority to the Bureau of Prisons
(“BOP”) and that the imposition of sanctions by
the BOP for failing to acquiesce in the Inmate Financial
Responsibility Program (“IFRP”) is not in
accordance with law. (Id.) After the filing of this
petition, Thomas was transferred to the Federal Correctional
Institute, Cumberland, Maryland. After receiving the $5.00
filing fee, the Court directed Respondent to show cause why
Thomas should not receive the relief he requests. (Doc. No.
7.) On April 24, 2017, Respondent filed a response to the
petition (Doc. No. 9) and on May 3, 2017, Thomas filed a
traverse. (Doc. No. 10.)
was sentenced in this Court on July 30, 1997. United
States v. Kilgore, et al., No. 1:96-CR-0297-003 (M.D. Pa
1997). As part of his sentence, Thomas was ordered to pay
restitution in the amount of $11, 965.00 and an assessment of
$200.00. Id. Thomas was ordered to pay the total
fine and other criminal monetary payments “in full
immediately.” Id. As a special condition of
supervision, Thomas was also ordered to “pay any
balance of restitution imposed by this judgment which remains
unpaid at the commencement of the term of supervise release
in minimum monthly installments of no less than $100.”
filed an initial § 2241 habeas petition on November 23,
2009 in this Court. Thomas v. Martinez, No.
1:09-CV-2296 (M.D. Pa. 2010). In that habeas petition, Thomas
alleged that this Court did not set a payment schedule by
which he could pay down his restitution sentence while in
prison and therefore, he requested that this Court order the
BOP to designate him as “exempt” from the
requirements of the IFRP. On March 18, 2010, this Court
issued an Order, stating that the language regarding
restitution payments in Thomas' underlying criminal case
amounted “to an unlawful delegation to the Bureau of
Prisons of a schedule of restitution payments, ” and
that “subsequent to this ruling, this court has altered
its wording on restitution payments.” Id. This
Court then stayed that habeas petition and gave Thomas an
opportunity to exhaust his available administrative remedies.
Id. Thomas' administrative remedy was
successful, as the BOP granted his request for relief and
ceased collecting restitution payments from him. Id.
His habeas action was then dismissed as moot. Id.
26, 2015, Thomas was transferred to USP-Canaan. (Doc. No. 1
at 2.) While at USP-Canaan, USP-Canaan collected $25.00 per
month in restitution payments from Thomas from March 2016
through March 2017, totaling $125.00. (Id. at 2;
Doc. No. 9 at 4, Respondent's Response.) Thomas was
subsequently transferred to FCI-Cumberland where he is
currently confined. On January 23, 2017, Thomas filed the
instant petition for writ of habeas pursuant to §
2241. In his instant petition, Thomas requests
to have the money that was withdrawn from his account while
at USP-Canaan reimbursed.
habeas corpus relief is limited to inquiries into the
“legality of detention.” Leamer v.
Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d Cir. 2002); Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973). The petitioner must
attack the “validity of the continued conviction or the
fact or length of the sentence.” Id. at 542.
28 U.S.C. § 2241 “confers habeas jurisdiction to
hear the petition of a federal prisoner who is challenging
not the validity but the execution of his sentence.”
Coady v. Vaughn, 251 F.3d 480, 485 (3d Cir. 2001);
Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235,
242 (3d Cir. 2005). This includes a challenge to the
BOP's authority to set terms for payment of restitution
while imprisoned. United States v. Walker, 149
F.App'x 55, 57 (3d Cir. 2005); McGee v.
Martinez, 627 F.3d 933, 936 (3d Cir. 2010) (challenges
to the IFRP's payment schedule concerns the execution of
sentence, and are, therefore correctly framed as § 2241
claims brought in the district where the sentence is being
carried out.) (internal citations omitted).
to the extent a prisoner is alleging the sentencing judge
erred in imposing its restitution order, such a claim is not
cognizable in a habeas petition and must be raised on direct
appeal. Balter v. Martinez, 477 F.App'x 873, 875
(3d Cir. 2012); Garnder v. Bledsoe, 415 F.App'x
384, 386 (3d Cir. 2011) (holding that the District Court
lacked jurisdiction to entertain § 2241 petition where
petitioner challenged the sentencing court's restitution
order, not the BOP's execution of it); Duronio v.
Gonzales, 293 F.App'x 155, 157 (3d Cir. 2008);
Duronio v. Werlinger, No. 9-CV-289, 2011 WL 8582709,
*1 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 22, 2011).
petition, Thomas argues that this Court impermissibly
delegated to the BOP its duty under the Mandatory Victims
Restitution Act (“MVRA”) to set the manner and
schedule of restitution during imprisonment, and that the BOP
exceeded its authority in collecting the restitution
payments. Petitioner cites to United States v.
Corley, 500 F.3d 210 (3d Cir. 2007) wherein the United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that under
the MVRA, a sentencing court cannot order immediate payment
of restitution and then delegate the actual restitution
schedule to the BOP. As relief, Thomas requests that the
Court order the BOP to reimburse all monetary funds collected
from his institutional account through the BOP's IFRP
response to the petition, Respondent argues that Thomas has
failed to provide an appropriate basis for subject matter
jurisdiction because Thomas' request to have money
reimbursed to him does not affect the length of his sentence
or the duration of his confinement.
habeas petition will be dismissed for jurisdictional reasons.
While it is true that claims alleging that the BOP exceeded
its authority in setting a schedule for restitution payments
through the IFRP are properly brought under § 2241
because they challenge the execution of the sentence,
McGee v. Martinez, 627 F.3d 933, 936-37 (3d Cir.
2010), Thomas' current claim, however, challenges the
sentencing court's restitution order itself; not the
BOP's execution of it. Indeed, Thomas argues throughout
his petition that the sentencing court failed to follow the
strictures of the MVRA by impermissibly delegating to the BOP
its duty to set the manner and schedule of restitution
payments under the MVRA.
Thomas' petition does not challenge the execution of his
sentence, but rather, the restitution order itself, his claim
does not fall within the purview of § 2241. See
Trader v. U.S., 281 F.App'x 87, 88 (3d Cir. 2008)
(providing that Petitioner's § 2241 was not
cognizable because petition did not challenge execution of
his sentence, but instead, argued that the sentencing court
failed to follow the strictures of the MVRA);
Gardner, 415 F.App'x at 386 (holding that
Petitioner's § 2241 petition challenged the
sentencing court's restitution order, not the BOP's
execution of it and therefore, the District Court lacked
jurisdiction to entertain § 2241 petition); U.S. v.
Banks, 422 F.App'x 137, 139 (3d Cir. 2011)
(providing that to extent petitioner is challenging the
overall validity of District Court's restitution order,
such a challenge should be made on direct appeal and the
limited jurisdiction conferred by 18 U.S.C. § 3664(k)
does not encompass an attack on the overall validity of a
restitution order); Balter, 477 F.App'x at 875
(providing that Petitioner's § 2241 petition fails
primarily because the proper time for challenging ...