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Brian Ferguson v. Warden

November 3, 2011

BRIAN FERGUSON, PETITIONER,
v.
WARDEN, FCC COLEMAN-LOW, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1 at 17.) After review, the Court denies the Petition.

BACKGROUND

On September 1, 1987, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin sentenced Petitioner to an aggregate term of 14 years for armed bank robbery and bank larceny. (Resp. Pet. Ex. A.) On February 22, 1996, Petitioner was released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin via mandatory release pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4163 with 1,803 days remaining on his sentence. (Id. Ex. B.)

On May 17, 1996, Petitioner was arrested (id. Ex. A), and on June 4, 1996, the United States Parole Commission ("Commission") issued a violation warrant charging new criminal conduct. (Id. Ex. C.) Following a jury trial, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin convicted Petitioner of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and aiding and abetting bank robbery and on November 8, 1996, sentenced Petitioner to 175 months in prison. (Id. Ex. A at 1.)

The Commission's June 4, 1996, violator warrant had been placed as a detainer against Petitioner. (Id. Ex. E.) On August 28, 2009, Petitioner was released from his 1996 sentence, and the Commission's violator warrant was executed the same date. (Id. Ex. C at 2.) An institutional hearing was held on October 21, 2009, at United States Penitentiary Coleman in Coleman, Florida, where Petitioner was incarcerated when released from the 1996 sentence. (Id. Ex. H.) Following the hearing, the Commission issued a notice of action dated December 16, 2009, revoking Petitioner's mandatory release, denying credit for time Petitioner spent on release, and ordering Petitioner's continued incarceration until expiration of the balance of the 1987 sentence. (Id. Ex. I.) Petitioner appealed the revocation decision to the National Appeals Board, which affirmed. (Id. Ex. K.)

In this Petition, Petitioner argues that he is illegally detained because the 1987 sentence for which he is currently detained expired in January 2001 (Doc. 1 at 2-4), and that he was entitled to a local revocation hearing after release from the 1996 sentence. (Doc. 17 at 3.) Petitioner generally objects to the conditions of his confinement and the Bureau of Prisons' failure to accurately compute Petitioner's release date on its website. (Id. at 4-5.)

DISCUSSION

Petitioner brings this Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. This is the "appropriate vehicle to challenge a decision of the federal Parole Commission" or other decisions regarding a federal prisoner's sentence. Antonelli v. Warden, U.S.P. Atlanta, 542 F.3d 1348, 1352 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Hajduk v. United States, 764 F.2d 795, 796 (11th Cir. 1985)). "This is so because challenges to the execution of a sentence, rather than the validity of the sentence itself, are properly brought under § 2241." Id. (citing Bishop v. Reno, 210 F.3d 1295, 1304 (11th Cir. 2000)).

A. Expiration of Petitioner's 1987 Sentence

Petitioner claims that he is being illegally detained because his 1987 sentence expired in January 2001. (Doc. 1 at 4.) Petitioner also objects to the fact that he is being detained on the basis of repealed statutes. (Doc. 24 at 1.) The Commission, however, had authority to revoke Petitioner's parole for the 1987 sentence and run the 1987 sentence and 1996 sentence consecutively.

The United States Parole Commission, an office of the Department of Justice, is responsible for granting or denying parole to individuals convicted of federal crimes prior to November 1, 1987. Jurisdiction over these cases was conferred by chapter 311 to title 18 of the United States Code. Though chapter 311 was repealed effective November 1, 1987, chapter 311 was to initially "remain in effect for five years after the effective date as to an individual convicted of an offense . . . before the effective date . . . ." Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-473, § 235(b)(1), 98 Stat. 2032. The Sentencing Reform Act was thereafter repeatedly amended to extend the Commission's jurisdiction, and the applicability of chapter 311, through November 1, 2011. See, e.g., United States Parole Commission Extension Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-312, 122 Stat. 3013. Thus, Petitioner was not detained on the basis of any repealed statutes.

The terms of Petitioner's parole for his initial fourteen-year sentence, imposed on September 1, 1987, are governed by now-repealed provisions of the United States Code, title 18, chapter 311, as enacted in 1976. While incarcerated for the 1987 conviction, Petitioner was "entitled to a deduction from the term of his sentence" ten days for every month served in good conduct. 18 U.S.C. § 4161 (1976). As a result, on February 22, 1996, Petitioner was released pursuant to the mandatory release provision with 1,803 days remaining to be served on this initial sentence. Id. During his mandatory release, Petitioner was to be "deemed as if released on parole until the expiration of the maximum term . . . for which he was sentenced less one hundred and eighty days." Id. § 4164.

As discussed, Petitioner was arrested eighty-five days after his release, and the Commission issued a parole revocation warrant on June 4, 1996. On November 8, 1996, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin sentenced Petitioner to 175 months in prison, and on December 23, 1996, the Commission permissibly placed the warrant "against him as a detainer." Id. § 4214(b)(1); see also Goodman v. Keohane, 663 F.2d 1044, 1046-47 (11th Cir. 1981). The Commission ...


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