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MacK v. Wilson

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

March 4, 2015

Haywood Mack, Petitioner,
Eric D. Wilson, Respondent.


ANTHONY J. TRENGA, District Judge.

Haywood Mack, a federal inmate housed in the Eastern District of Virginia and proceeding pro se, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP's") decision not to grant him early release upon successful completion of the Residential Drug Abuse Program ("RDAP"). On June 30, 2014, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, a Motion for Summary Judgment.[1] Petitioner was given the opportunity to file responsive materials, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), and he filed a response on July 16, 2014. Respondent then filed a reply to petitioner's response on July 23, 2014. For the reasons that follow, Respondent's Motion must be granted and petitioner's claims must be dismissed.

I. Background

Petitioner is currently serving a 57-month sentence, entered on June 10, 2013 in the District of Vermont, for conspiracy to distribute cocaine base. See Memorandum in Support of Respondent's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment ("Resp.'s Mem.") [Dkt. 9], Ex. 1 (Baker Decl.) ¶ 5; Att. 1. Petitioner is currently held at FCC Petersburg, and is projected to be released from confinement on August 10, 2016, through the accrual of good-time credit. See Resp.'s Mem., Ex. ¶ 5. On July 15, 2013, petitioner was approved to participate in RDAP. Id. ¶ 6. RDAP is a residential drug treatment program that the BOP created to exercise its congressionally-mandated duty to provide residential drug treatment for offenders with drug addiction. See 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(1) ("[T]he Bureau of Prisons shall, subject to the availability of appropriations, provide residential substance abuse treatment [to specified offenders]..."). To qualify for admission, an inmate must "have a verifiable substance abuse disorder, " must sign an agreement acknowledging his responsibility to complete the program, and must be able to complete all aspects of the program. 28 C.F.R. § 550.53(b).

After petitioner was found qualified for RDAP, BOP legal staff conducted an "offense review" to determine whether he would qualify for early release upon successful completion of the program. See Resp.'s Mem., Ex. ¶ 7; see also id. Att. 5, at 1, 6. Pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 550.55, inmates who were sentenced for a "nonviolent offense" are entitled to early release upon successful completion of RDAP. See 28 C.F.R. § 550.55(a)(1)(i)-(ii). Inmates with a current felony conviction for crimes involving the use of force, the use of a firearm, serious harm to another, or sexual abuse of minors are ineligible for early release. Id. § 550.55(b)(5). Also ineligible for early release are inmates with a "prior felony or misdemeanor conviction for... (i) homicide...; (ii) forcible rape; (iii) robbery; (iv) aggravated assault; (v) arson; (vi) kidnaping; or (vii) an offense that by its nature or conduct involves sexual abuse offenses committed upon minors." Id. § 550.55(b)(4). Under the regulations, the age of the past offense is irrelevant to the early-release eligibility calculation. See, e.g., Resp.'s Mem., Ex. 1 ¶ 13.

After a review of petitioner's Judgment and Commitment Order, presentence investigation report, and other sentencing information, BOP legal staff concluded that petitioner was not eligible for early release upon completion of RDAP. See id. ¶ 9. BOP legal staff came to this conclusion upon learning that petitioner pled guilty to robbery in the first degree in 1991 in a New York state court. See id. BOP legal staff concluded that the elements of robbery in the first degree under New York law were sufficiently similar to the elements of robbery defined in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which the BOP uses as a uniform definition of robbery governing all early release decisions. See id. ¶¶ 14-15. Accordingly, petitioner was found ineligible for early release, pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 550.55(b)(4).

Petitioner appealed his denial of early release to the Warden. He then filed appeals to the BOP's regional office and the BOP's central office. See Resp.'s Mem., Ex. 2 (Coll Decl.), Att. 2, at unnumbered pages 1-6. Accordingly, it is uncontested that petitioner exhausted all of his claims and that this matter is ripe for review on the merits. In the instant petition, petitioner claims that the BOP's decision to not grant him early release violates his constitutional rights. He also claims that 28 C.F.R. § 550.55(b), as implemented, violates the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA").

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The moving party bears the burden of proving that judgment as a matter of law is appropriate. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To meet that burden, the moving party must demonstrate that no genuine issues of material fact are present for resolution. Id. at 322. Once a moving party has met its burden to show that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to point out the specific facts that create disputed factual issues. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, a district court should consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of that party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962).

Those facts which the moving party bears the burden of proving are facts which are material. "[T]he substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts which might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; see also Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259, 265 (4th Cir. 2001). An issue of material fact is genuine when, "the evidence... create[s] [a] fair doubt; wholly speculative assertions will not suffice." Ross v. Commc'ns Satellite Corp., 759 F.2d 355, 364 (4th Cir. 1985), abrogated on other grounds by Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989). Thus, summary judgment is appropriate only where no material facts are genuinely disputed and the evidence as a whole could not lead a rational fact finder to rule for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corm, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

III. Analysis

A. BOP's Decision did not Violate Petitioner's Constitutional Rights

Petitioner alleges that the BOP's decision to deny him early release violated his constitutional rights. Specifically, he asserts that the decision violated his Fifth Amendment right against Double Jeopardy, his Due Process rights, his Equal Protection rights, and his Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment.

However, the decision to deny petitioner early release does not violate any of petitioner's constitutional rights. First, petitioner states that the decision to deny him early release "violated [his] right to be [free] from Double Jeopardy since [he] is being punished twice for the same offense." Memorandum of Law in Support of Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Pet.'s Mem.") [Dtk. 1-2], at 4. However, the Double Jeopardy Clause protects only against a second prosecution for the same offense after either a conviction or acquittal and multiple punishments for the same offense. See United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 400 (1989), abrogated on other grounds by Hudson v. United States, 522 U.S. 93 (1997). Although petitioner seems to imply that the use of his past conviction for robbery to disqualify him for early release constitutes multiple punishments for his past ...

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