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Thomplson v. Clarke

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

October 28, 2016

PAUL C. THOMPSON, JR., Petitioner,

          Paul C. Thompson, Jr., Pro Se Petitioner.



         The petitioner, Paul C. Thompson, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the execution of his federal term of confinement. After review of the record, I must summarily dismiss the Petition.[1]


         Thompson is currently serving Virginia state prison sentences imposed in 2007 by the Circuit Court for Henrico County and in 2009 by the Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach. Thompson is also subject to a federal detainer, based on a sentence of imprisonment imposed in 2008 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Case No. 4:07-cr-00032-RAJ-HEB-1. The federal court imposed Thompson's federal sentence to run concurrently with the sentences imposed by the Henrico County Circuit Court. Thompson claims that he completed the nonconcurrent portions of his state term of confinement on October 20, 2015 and that he remains wrongfully confined at Red Onion State Prison, a facility operated by the Virginia Department of Corrections (“VDOC”). Thompson states that he has not filed any administrative remedy regarding the execution of his federal sentence.

         Thompson filed this § 2241 petition in September 2016, contending that state and federal officials have failed to ensure that he receives proper federal sentence credit for the prison time he has served since October 20, 2015. Specifically, Thompson asserts that federal officials should have executed the detainer and transferred him to federal prison in October 2015 so that he could receive concurrent credit for his state and federal sentences, as the federal court intended. He also claims that officials' failure to arrange this transfer violated the terms of his federal Plea Agreement by improperly altering the concurrent portion of his federal sentence to make it consecutive to his state time.[2] As relief, Thompson asks this court to order execution of the federal detainer and provide him with credit against his federal sentence for his time served in state prison since October 20, 2015.[3]


         A district court lacks jurisdiction to grant an inmate credit against his criminal sentence for jail time served. United States v. Miller, 871 F.2d 488, 489-90 (4th Cir. 1989). It is the Attorney General, through the federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), who is responsible for administering a federal inmate's sentence and computing the credit to be given for the inmate's prior custody. United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329, 334 (1992) (interpreting 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b)). BOP regulations contain detailed procedures and guidelines for calculating the appropriate credit each prisoner must receive for jail time served. Id. at 335. An inmate may seek administrative review of the BOP's computation of his prior custody credits, and after exhaustion of such administrative remedies, he may also seek judicial review. Id.

         As stated on the face of his Petition, Thompson has not yet sought to resolve his issues regarding his federal sentence calculation by pursuing administrative remedies with the BOP. As such, his petition is premature and must be summarily dismissed.

         Moreover, Thompson's challenge to the calculation of his federal sentence is premature for another, more basic reason. When an inmate is subject to sentences imposed by two different sovereigns, such as federal and state authorities, the sovereign that arrested him first acquires and maintains primary jurisdiction over him until the sentence or sentences imposed by that sovereign have been satisfied. United States v. Evans, 159 F.3d 908, 912 (4th Cir. 1998) (citing Ponzi v. Fessenden, 258 U.S. 254, 260 (1922)); United States v. Smith, 812 F.Supp. 368, 370 & n.2 (E.D.N.Y. 1993) (observing the general rules that “the first sovereign to arrest an offender has priority of jurisdiction over him for trial, sentencing, and incarceration” and that “jurisdiction continues until the first sovereign relinquishes its priority by, for example, bail release, dismissal of the state charges, parole release, or expiration of the sentence” (citations omitted)). “Generally, a federal sentence does not commence until a prisoner is delivered to the federal institution designated by the BOP.” United States v. Miller, 49 F.Supp.2d 489, 493 (E.D. Va. 1999). At this time, Virginia retains primary custody over Thompson. Nothing in the record indicates that federal authorities will begin to calculate his federal term of confinement before he enters federal custody at the expiration of his state sentences. As such, he has no viable, current challenge to the calculation of his federal sentence.


         For the stated reasons, I conclude that Thompson's § 2241 petition must be summarily dismissed without prejudice. Once he has been released from the custody of Virginia authorities and transferred to the custody of federal authorities, he may raise his current arguments about the calculation of his federal term of confinement through appropriate administrative remedies available to federal prisoners. If he is dissatisfied with the administrative disposition of his issues after he has exhausted such remedies, he may then pursue a § 2241 petition regarding his federal term of confinement.

         A separate Final Order will ...

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