United States District Court, N.D. California
September 20, 2005.
PATRICIA LOCKETT, Petitioner,
Warden SCHELIA CLARK, Respondent.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Patricia Lockett, a prisoner currently incarcerated at the
Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, filed a
pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241, in which she alleged that the Bureau of Prisons
has miscalculated the good time credits to which she is entitled
under 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b) and that the miscalculation will result
in a longer term of imprisonment than that to which she is
entitled if she continues to earn good time credits for the rest
of her sentence. The court issued an order to show cause why the
writ should not be granted. Respondent then filed a response and
motion to dismiss the petition in which she contended that the
BOP's interpretation of § 3524(b) is correct and governs the
calculation of Lockett's time credits.
A federal prisoner serving a term of more than a year but less
than life "may receive credit toward the service of the
prisoner's sentence, beyond the time served, of up to 54 days at
the end of each year of the prisoner's term of imprisonment,
beginning at the end of the first year of the term" for good
behavior. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1) (emphasis added). The BOP's
implementing regulation provides that an "inmate earns 54 days
credit toward service of sentence (good-time credit) for each year served. This amount is prorated when the
time served by the inmate for the sentence during the year is
less than a full year." 28 C.F.R. § 523.20; accord BOP Program
Statement 5880.28 § 1-41.
Lockett contends that § 3624(b)'s phrase "term of imprisonment"
means the "sentence actually imposed" while the BOP has
interpreted the phrase to mean "time actually served." The sole
issue here is whether the BOP's interpretation must be followed,
because Lockett contends only that BOP's interpretation is wrong
and does not contend that the BOP's calculation under the BOP's
interpretation is wrong
After Lockett's petition was filed, the Ninth Circuit issued a
decision which addressed the exact question posed by Lockett's
petition and decided it squarely against Lockett's position. In
Mujahid v. Daniels, 413 F.3d 991 (9th Cir. 2005), the issue was
whether the BOP correctly interpreted § 3624(b). The Mujahid
court determined that its earlier decision in Pacheco-Camacho v.
Hood, 272 F.3d 1266 (9th Cir. 2001), was controlling.
"Pacheco-Camacho established that the phrase `term of
imprisonment' in 18 U.S.C. § 3524(b)(1) is ambiguous, that the
BOP's interpretation was reasonable and is thus entitled to
deference." Mujahid. 413 F.3d at 999. As a result, Mujahid was
entitled to earn credits based on time actually served rather
than on the sentence imposed. See id.
Applying Mujahid and Pacheco-Comacho here compels the
rejection of Lockett's petition. Lockett is not entitled to a
writ of habeas corpus because the BOP's interpretation of §
3624(b) to allow time credits to be earned only on time actually
served and its calculation of Lockett's good time credits under
that interpretation is not in "violation of the Constitution or
laws or treaties of the United States," 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).
The petition is DENIED on the merits. Respondent's motion to
dismiss is denied because denial rather than dismissal is the
appropriate resolution of the petition. (Docket # 6.) The clerk
shall close the file.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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