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BRYSON v. U.S. PAROLE COMMN.

September 27, 1991

SATARA BRYSON, Petitioner,
v.
U.S. PAROLE COMMISSION, et al., Respondents


Thelton E. Henderson, Chief United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HENDERSON

THELTON E. HENDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This matter comes before the court on Ms. Satara Bryson's petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. *fn1" The petition came on for oral argument on Monday, September 16, 1991 at 10:00 a.m. The petitioner was represented by Diane Marie Amann, Assistant Federal Public Defender. The respondents were represented by George Christopher Stoll, Assistant United States Attorney.

 The petitioner contends that females who have been sentenced to prison terms under the District of Columbia Code (D.C. Code) receive less favorable parole terms than their male counterparts, in violation of the D.C. Code, and the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution of the United States. The respondents do not deny that there is differential treatment, but contend that such treatment violates neither the Constitution nor the laws of the United States. After careful consideration of the parties' written and oral arguments, it appears to the satisfaction of the court therefrom that the petition for writ of habeas corpus should be GRANTED.

 I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 Nine years ago Satara Bryson was convicted in the District of Columbia (D.C.) for theft of $ 94.00 and received an indeterminate sentence of two to six years. Because D.C. has no prison for women, until her June 11, 1986 parole, Ms. Bryson served her sentence in Federal Correctional Institutions (F.C.I.'s) in Alderson, West Virginia, and Pleasanton, California. In November of 1987, Ms. Bryson became involved in a barroom altercation, which arose over an unpaid debt. During the altercation Ms. Bryson was hit on the back of the head with a bottle. After being struck, Bryson attacked her assailant with a razor blade which the assailant had dropped on the floor. In April of 1988, as a result of the incident, Ms. Bryson was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, and served 24 months in state custody. She was then released to federal custody pursuant to a federal parole violator warrant.

 On March 14, 1990 Ms. Bryson appeared before a panel of the U.S. Parole Commission (Commission) in Los Angeles for her parole revocation hearing. At the hearing the panel held that since Bryson's was "an exclusively D.C. Code case, the D.C. Code guidelines [were] applicable." Based on the D.C. guidelines, the panel recommended that Ms. Bryson serve a total of 30 to 31 months and be reparoled on June 15, 1990.

 Ms. Bryson's second parole revocation hearing was held on May 16, 1990. The second panel calculated Ms. Bryson's parole at the federal guideline range of 48 to 60 months, and recommended that she remain in custody until her mandatory release date of November 8, 1991. Her full term will expire on July 2, 1992. *fn2" Ms. Bryson appealed her parole recalculation on the ground that she should receive that same treatment as the male prisoner class in Cosgrove v. Thornburgh, 703 F. Supp. 995 (D.D.C. 1988). The National Appeals Board of the Parole Commission affirmed the decision of the panel, stating:

 
The decision in Cosgrove v. Thornburgh does not apply to you since you are not a member of the class of plaintiffs defined in that litigation. In the Commission's view, the application of the Federal reparole guidelines in your case does not violate the constitutional equal protection or due process guarantees.
 
Return to order to show cause, exhibit J.

 Ms. Bryson filed this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus on March 19, 1991. On April 22, 1991, this court ordered the respondent Parole Commission to show cause why a writ of habeas corpus should not be issued. On May 20, 1991, we granted the petitioner's motion for appointment of counsel, resulting in the appointment of Diane Marie Amann, Assistant Federal Public Defender.

 II. LEGAL BACKGROUND

 The Parole Commission relies heavily upon the complex nature of the legal proceedings which form the backdrop for this action. While we disagree with the Commission's analysis, we find it useful to describe the legal history leading up to the current situation.

 Persons convicted and sentenced under the Criminal Code of the District of Columbia (D.C. Code offenders) may be designated to serve their terms in either D.C. or federal prisons. Since D.C. operates no prisons for females, all female D.C. Code offenders are housed in federal prisons. However, D.C. does operate prisons for male inmates, so only a portion of male D.C. Code prisoners must be shipped out of the D.C. system into federal prisons.

 All prisoners housed in the federal prison system, (all female and some male prisoners) fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Parole Commission for parole supervision and revocation of parole. D.C. Code § 24-209; Cosgrove v. Smith, 225 App. D.C. 235, 697 F.2d 1125 (D.C.Cir. 1983). The D.C. Board of Parole hears the ...


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