United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
DOUGLAS E. MILLER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Eugene Bowen ("Bowen") brings this Petition for a
Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 alleging
that the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") failed to
properly recalculate his sentence and award good conduct time
in accordance with a provision of the First Step Act. The
Government filed a Motion to Dismiss the Petition, (ECF No.
6), with the required notice to pro se plaintiffs under
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975) .
Bowen did not respond. For the reasons below, the undersigned
recommends that the court GRANT Respondent's motion and
DISMISS the Petition.
Statement of the Case
Overview of the First Step Act
102(b) of the First Step Act amends 18 U.S.C. §
3624(b)(1) by changing the calculation scheme for good
conduct time. Pub. L. No. 115-391 § 102(b). The
amendment's good time credit calculation method allows
for a maximum of 54 days per year served, compared to the old
method's maximum of 47 days. Id. This grants
inmates the opportunity to earn more good conduct time while
serving their sentences. Section 101(a) of the Act mandates
that the Attorney General conduct a risk and needs assessment
of implementing the new system. Section 102(b)(2) allows the
BOP to delay its implementation of § 102(b)'s
amendments, which include the changes to good time
calculation, until 180 days after the completion of an
assessment by the Attorney General. Id. §
is currently serving an 18-month sentence at FCI Petersburg,
with a release date pf May 4, 2020. (ECF No. 1.) Bowen filed
his Petition April 4, 2019, alleging that the BOP failed to
recalculate his sentence and award him good conduct time in
compliance with Section 102(b) of the First Step Act, which
changed the manner in which good time credit was calculated
from 47 days to 54 days per year. (ECF No. 1.) The Government
filed a Motion to Dismiss the Petition on April 22, 2019.
(ECF No. 6.) The Government contends that Section 102(b) of
The First Step Act had not yet taken effect at the time of
Bowen's Petition, and therefore the matter is not ripe
for the court's review. (ECF No. 6, at 5-6.)
Additionally, the Government contends that Bowen would not
suffer any hardship should he be made to wait for the
effective date of the Act, as he is scheduled for release
almost ten months after the effective date of the Act and is
only owed 7 days of good conduct time under the Act's
amendments. (Id. at 6.) Finally, the Government
contends that Bowen has failed to pursue any administrative
remedies to his issue and therefore failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies prior to filing for habeas relief.
(Id. at 7.)
Recommended Conclusions of Law
Section 102's Effective Date
102(b) of the First Step Act allows the BOP to delay entering
the amendment of 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1), including the
altered calculation of good conduct time, until 18 0 days
after the Attorney General completes a Risk and Needs
Assessment, due no later than July 19, 2019. Pub. L. No.
115-391 § 102(b). As Bowen filed his Petition on March
21, 2019, the BOP had not had the opportunity to implement
the policy changes brought by the Act's amendments. (ECF
No. 1.) Federal courts only have jurisdiction to adjudicate
actual ongoing cases or controversies, and at the time of
this Petition the provision in question was not effective.
Lewis v. Cont'l Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 474, 477
(1990) ("Under Article III of the Constitution, federal
courts may adjudicate only actual, ongoing cases or
controversies."). Therefore, this matter was not ripe
for review, and this court lacked jurisdiction to force the
BOP to prematurely implement the amendments laid out in the
First Step Act.
acknowledges the language of Section 102(b)(2), but he
alleges that subsection 102(1) (A) possesses its own
instruction that modifies an existing requirement for the
BOP's duty to calculate good time. (ECF No.1, at 2)
("While this date does exist in the law, (b)(1)(A)
contains its own instruction."). According to Bowen,
"[t]he BOP's current interpretation essentially
nullifies the entire first clause for any offender who will
be released before the BOP creates this new system."
(ECF No. 1, at 2.) This reading is contradicted by the plain
language of subsection 102(b). Which expressly provides
"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."
asserts that if he is made to wait until the effective date
of the relevant provision to recalculate his sentence, he
will be released prior to receiving the good conduct time
intended by Congress. (ECF No. 1, at 2.) However, since
filing this Petition, Bowen received his revised good time
calculation on the effective date of the Act. He remains
incarcerated at this time, as he was due to be credited only
7 additional days. (See ECF No. 1, at 2.)
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
federal prisoners must exhaust their administrative remedies
prior to filing federal habeas petitions. McClung v.
Shearin,90 Fed.Appx. 444, 445 (4th Cir. 2004)
(unpublished per curiam opinion); see also Timms v.
Johns,627 F.3d 525, 530-31 (4th Cir. 2010); Moscato
v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons,98 F.3d 757, 760 (3d Cir.
1996) . Administrative exhaustion serves two main purposes.
First, it "protects "administrative agency
authority"." Woodford v. Ngo,548 U.S. 81,
89 (2006) (quoting McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U.S.
140, 145 (1992)). Requiring exhaustion ensures that agencies
have an opportunity to correct mistakes in their own programs
and promotes adherence to agency procedure. See Id.
Second, because "[c]laims generally ...