United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Michael Greene, an inmate presently confined at the State
Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania,
(SCI-Huntingdon), filed this pro se habeas corpus
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This matter was
initially assigned to the Honorable Edwin M. Kosik of this
Court. Named as Respondent is Superintendent Tice of
SCI-Huntingdon. Service of the Petition was previously
2006, Petitioner was convicted of aggravated and simple
assault following a jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas
of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. As a result, Greene was
sentenced to life in prison as a three strikes offender.
Following a direct appeal, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania
overturned Petitioner's sentence on the grounds that
Greene's prior convictions could not be considered for
the three strikes necessary to impose a life sentence. Greene
was resentenced on December 15, 2010 to an aggregate one
hundred and two (102) to two hundred and forty (240) month
term of imprisonment. Petitioner's maximum release date
is July 21, 2024. The pending action does not challenge the
legality of Greene's conviction or sentence. See
Doc. 1, ¶ 8.
was considered for, and denied parole on July 30, 2014; May
2, 2015; and March 31, 2016. In the March 31, 2016
determination, Petitioner was denied parole based upon
multiple factors. See Doc. 11-1, p. 8. The
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Parole Board)
cited the following reasons in support of its decision: a
risks and needs assessment, reports, evaluations and
assessments found that Greene posed a risk to the community
if released; a negative recommendation by the prosecuting
attorney; and the inmate's lack of remorse for his crime.
claims entitlement to federal habeas corpus relief on the
grounds that the Parole Board improperly denied him parole
and violated his due process rights. He generally contends
that the Parole Board acted in an arbitrary and vindictive
manner because it failed to consider his lack of
institutional misconducts, program completions, and positive
achievements while incarcerated. It is also asserted that a
Parole Board member told Greene that he would only be paroled
if he dropped his pending state court petition pursuant to
Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA).
action will be construed as solely challenging the March 31,
2016 adverse determination by the Parole Board. See
Cameron v, . Kerestes, No. 1:13-CV-2159, 2014 WL 201078
*4 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 16, 2014)(Rambo, J.)(one year limitations
period of Section 2244(d) of Title 28 of the United States
Code applies to a habeas corpus action challenging a parole
28, United States Code § 2241 vests the federal district
courts with jurisdiction to grant a writ of habeas corpus to
persons in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. §
2241(c)(3). It is well-settled that “there is no
constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be
conditionally released before the expiration of a valid
sentence.” Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal
& Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7 (1979).
Likewise, the Pennsylvania parole statute does not create a
liberty interest in the right to be paroled. Rodgers v.
Parole Agent SCI-Frackville, Wech, 916 F.Supp. 474,
476-77 (E.D. Pa. 1996); McCrery v. Mark, 823 F.Supp.
288, 294 (E.D. Pa. 1993); Thorpe v. Grillo, 80
Fed.Appx. 215 (3d Cir. 2003)(because there is no
constitutional right to parole, any substantive due process
claim is foreclosed); Perry v. Vaughn, 2005 WL
736633 at *10 (E.D. Pa. March 31, 2005).
the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
also held that:
[E]ven if a state statute does not give rise to a liberty
interest in parole release under Greenholtz, once a
state institutes a parole system all prisoners have a liberty
interest flowing directly from the due process clause in not
being denied parole for arbitrary or constitutionally
Block v. Potter, 631 F.2d 233, 236 (3d Cir. 1980).
Accordingly, even where a state statute grants discretion to
the state parole board to condition or completely deny
parole, it may not permit “totally arbitrary parole
decisions founded on impermissible criteria.”
Id. Consequently, a federal court may review a
decision by a state parole board for an abuse of discretion.
Id. Upon such review, relief will only be available
if an applicant can show that parole was arbitrarily denied
based on some impermissible reason such as “race,
religion, or political beliefs, ” or that the parole
board made its determination based on “frivolous
criteria with no rational relationship to the purpose of
parole . . . .” Id. at 236 n.2.
there is no allegation that Greene was denied parole on the
basis of his race, religion, or ethnicity. As previously
discussed, Greene had advanced a claim that the Parole Board
failed to apply proper criteria in rendering its decision to
deny parole. The parole decision noted that Greene, who has a
lengthy criminal history, including approximately 35 arrests
and convictions in the State of Massachusetts, had been
interviewed and a review of his file had taken place.
See Doc. 11-1, p. 8. Clearly, Petitioner's
criminal record was an appropriate and relevant factor to be
considered by the Parole Board in assessing Greene's
suitability for release.
the Parole Board stated that a risk and needs assessment,
evaluations, and reports regarding the Petitioner indicated
that he would pose a threat to the community if released.
Such reports/assessments/evaluations were a proper source of
information to be considered by the Parole Board in reaching
its decision. Likewise, an unfavorable recommendation by the
prosecuting attorney was a relevant and appropriate report to
be relied upon in making a parole eligibility determination.