United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Petition for writ of habeas corpus, filed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (ECF No. 1), by Petitioner
Miguel Lopez-Valdez, a federal inmate currently confined at
the Allenwood Low Federal Correctional Institution in White
Deer, Pennsylvania. Mr. Lopez-Valdez seeks to proceed in
forma pauperis. (ECF No. 2.) Mr. Lopez-Valdez originally
filed his petition before the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Texas where he was criminally
convicted. As Mr. Lopez-Valdez's petition attacks the
manner in which his sentence is being carried out, it was
transferred to this Court as he is incarcerated within the
Middle District of Pennsylvania. Mr. Lopez-Valdez's
petition seeks an immediate recalculation of his earned Good
Conduct Time (GCT) credits based on the recent passage of the
First Step Act of 2018 (FSA), Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132 Stat.
petition is currently before the Court for preliminary
review. For the reasons set forth below, Mr.
Lopez-Valdez's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis will be granted but his petition will be
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Lopez-Valdez claims the BOP incorrectly calculated his good
time credits, i.e. his sentence, if successful, the remedy
would be his speedier release from custody. Section 2241
allows a prisoner to challenge the execution of his sentence.
Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235,
241 (3d Cir. 2005) (federal prisoner's challenge to
reduction of time spent in a Residential Reentry Center
cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2241). A District Court may
correct an error by the BOP in the calculation of a federal
sentence through a writ of habeas corpus. See, e.g.,
Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 479 (3d Cir.1990).
review of the Petition, as well as Mr. Lopez-Valdez's
criminal conviction, available via PACER (the online national
index providing public access to court electronic records),
reveals that on July 22, 2005, Mr. Lopez-Valdez plead guilty
to possession with intent to distribute a quantity exceeding
100 kilograms of marihuana, that is approximately 655 kilos,
in violation of Title 21, United States Code, §§
841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B). On November 1, 2005, in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
Texas, he received a sentence of 290 months' imprisonment
for that conviction. See United States v. Lopez, No.
1:05-00042 (S.D. Tx.) (last visited 06/05/19). On May 29,
2009, the sentencing court reduced his sentence to 245
months' incarceration. On December 11, 2015, Mr.
Lopez-Valdez's sentence was further reduced to 199
to Mr. Lopez-Valdez, and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Inmate
Locator,  under the pre-FSA version of 18 U.S.C.
§ 3624, his projected release date is July 9, 2019. He
challenges the BOP's refusal to immediately recalculate
his sentence and correct his award of good conduct time
credit in accordance with the FSA. Mr. Lopez-Valdez claims he
would receive an additional 116 days of GCT under the FSA
guidelines, advancing his projected release date to March 15,
April 1, 2019, Mr. Lopez-Valdez submitted a request to the
BOP to calculate his GCT award pursuant to the FSA. His case
manager denied the request stating:
Changes regarding Good Conduct Time are not effective at this
time. Once initiated, this change may result in additional
credit for inmates. It is not effective immediately, nor is
it applicable to all inmates. Unit team will keep you advised
as to any changes in the future.
(ECF No. 1 at 2.) Mr. Lopez-Valdez claims his filing of an
administrative remedy c concerning this issue would be futile
as “[t]here is no likelihood of a different outcome
than the one the case manager has already given.”
(Id. at 2-3.) As relief, Petitioner seeks the Court
to “order the BOP to recalculate [his] sentence in
accordance with the FSA”. (Id. at 8 - 9.)
December 21, 2008, President Trump signed the FSA into law.
Section 102(b)(1) of the FSA amended 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)
increasing the amount of good time credit a federal inmate
may earn per year of incarceration. Prior to the FSA's
amendment of 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b), a federal inmate could
earn a maximum of 47 days off their sentence per year for
good behavior. Under the FSA amendments to 18 U.S.C. §
3624(b), the good time credit allowance has increased to 54
days for each year of the prisoner's term of
imprisonment. See18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1) and
§ 102(b) of the FSA. The statute also includes an
The amendments made by this subsection shall take effect
beginning on the date that the Attorney General completes and
releases the risk and needs assessment system under
subchapter D of chapter 299 of title 18, United ...