United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY RESPONDENT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENY PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
(ECF NO. 12)
represented by counsel, is a federal prisoner proceeding with
a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
is currently incarcerated at the Correctional Institution in
Taft, California (“CI Taft”) serving a sentence
of eighty-seven months for conspiracy to distribute more than
fifty kilograms of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and 846. (ECF No. 1 at 1; ECF No. 12
at 1; ECF No. 12-1 at 1). On February 22, 2019, Petitioner filed
the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus. (ECF No. 1).
Therein, Petitioner asserts that he is due “an
immediate correction of his GOOD CONDUCT TIME (GCT) credit of
an additional 7 days per calendar year served under his
sentence to date” based on the First Step Act. (ECF No.
1 at 2).
filed a response and motion to dismiss, arguing the petition
should be dismissed because: (1) the petition is not ripe;
(2) requests for transfer to home confinement fail to state a
cognizable claim for habeas relief; and (3) Petitioner failed
to exhaust administrative remedies. (ECF No. 12). Petitioner
filed a traverse and opposition to the motion to dismiss.
(ECF No. 13).
Good Time Credits and the First Step Act
federal prisoner may accelerate the date of his release from
prison by receiving “good time credit, ”
Barber v. Thomas, 560 U.S. 474, 476 (2010), if the
Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) determines that
“the prisoner displayed exemplary compliance with
institutional disciplinary regulations, ” 18 U.S.C.
§ 3624(b)(1). Before the enactment of the First Step
Act, § 3624(b)(1) stated that a prisoner may receive
good time credit “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” and that
“credit for the last year or portion of a year of the
term of imprisonment shall be prorated and credited within
the last six weeks of the sentence.” 18 U.S.C. §
3624(b)(1). The BOP's method of calculating good time
credits was based on time served rather than time imposed.
Barber, 560 U.S. at 478-79. Thus, a well-behaved
prisoner with a ten-year sentence would receive 470 days of
good time credit instead of 540 days because the BOP's
methodology “precludes prisoners from earning credit
they would otherwise have earned had they not been released
early for good behavior.” United States v.
Ruiz-Apolonio, 657 F.3d 907, 919 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing
Barber, 560 U.S. at 483).
102(b)(1)(A) of the First Step Act amends 18 U.S.C. §
3624(b)(1) to state that a prisoner may receive good time
credit “of up to 54 days for each year of the
prisoner's sentence imposed by the court” and that
“credit for the last year of a term of imprisonment
shall be credited on the first day of the last year of the
term of imprisonment.” First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L.
No. 115-391, § 102(b)(1)(A), 132 Stat. 5194, 5210
III of the United States Constitution limits the jurisdiction
of federal courts to “actual, ongoing cases or
controversies.” Lewis v. Continental Bank
Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477 (1990). One component of the
Article III case-or-controversy requirement is
“ripeness, which concerns when a litigant may
bring suit.” Habeas Corpus Res. Ctr. v. U.S.
Dep't of Justice, 816 F.3d 1241, 1247 (9th Cir.
argues that Petitioner's request for recalculation of his
good time credits pursuant to the First Step Act is not ripe
because “the section of the First Step Act relied upon,
on its face is not yet effective, the Petitioner has not been
denied benefit thereof, ” and “Petitioner seeks
to challenge a potential, future sentence computation.”
(ECF No. 12 at 3). Petitioner contends that the issue
presented in the petition is ripe for judicial review because
it “is a direct legal dispute regarding the effective
date of” the amendment and if Petitioner is correct
that the good time credit amendment is effective immediately,
then Petitioner is suffering harm because “he remains
in prison when he should have already been transferred to a
community corrections setting.” (ECF No. 13 at 4).
is a justiciability doctrine designed ‘to prevent the
courts, through avoidance of premature adjudication, from
entangling themselves in abstract disagreements over
administrative policies, and also to protect the agencies
from judicial interference until an administrative decision
has been formalized and its effects felt in a concrete way by
the challenging parties.'” Nat'l Park Hosp.
Ass'n v. Dep't of Interior, 538 U.S. 803, 807-08
(2003) (quoting Abbott Labs. v. Gardner, 387 U.S.
136, 148-49 (1967)). “The ripeness doctrine is
‘drawn both from Article III limitations on judicial
power and from prudential reasons for refusing to exercise
jurisdiction.'” Nat'l Park Hosp., 538
U.S. at 808 (quoting Reno v. Catholic Social Services,
Inc., 509 U.S. 43, 57 n.18 (1993)).
constitutional component of ripeness overlaps with the
‘injury in fact' analysis for Article III standing,
” which inquires “whether the issues presented
are ‘definite and concrete, not hypothetical or
abstract.'” Wolfson v. Brammer, 616 F.3d
1045, 1058 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Thomas v. Anchorage
Equal Rights Comm'n, 220 F.3d 1134, 1139 (9th Cir.
2000) (en banc)). “To evaluate the prudential component
of ripeness, we weigh two considerations: ‘the fitness
of the issues for judicial decision and the hardship to the
parties of withholding court consideration.'”
Wolfson, 616 F.3d at 1060 (quoting Abbott
Labs., 387 U.S. at 149). A “claim is fit for
decision if the issues raised are primarily legal, do not
require further factual development, and the challenged
action is final.” Wolfson, 616 F.3d at 1060
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting U.S. West
Commc'ns v. MFS Intelenet, Inc., 193 F.3d 1112, 1118
(9th Cir.1999)). “To meet the hardship requirement, a
litigant must show that withholding review would result in
direct and immediate hardship and would entail more than
possible financial loss.” Wolfson, 616 F.3d at
1060 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting
Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109, 1126 (9th
the issue presented is whether the First Step Act provision
regarding good time credit is effective immediately or
whether pursuant to First Step Act § 102(b)(2) the
effective date is deferred until the Attorney General
completes and releases the risk and needs assessment system
within 210 days of the First Step Act's enactment, as
required by § 101(a). The issue presented is definite
and concrete, purely legal, and does not require further
factual development. Petitioner contends that withholding
court consideration would result in direct and immediate
hardship given that if the good time credit amendment is
effective immediately Petitioner should have already been
transferred to a community corrections setting. Accordingly, the
Court finds that the instant petition is ripe for
Cognizability of Request for Transfer
contends that the petition should be dismissed because all
requests for transfers to home confinement fail to state a
cognizable claim for habeas relief because the “Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction to review the BOP's
discretionary, individualized decisions concerning
designations of the place of incarceration.” (ECF No.
12 at 4). However, as noted by Petitioner in the traverse,
Petitioner is not asking the Court to make or review a
transfer decision, but to find the good time credit amendment
provision of the First Step Act to be effective immediately.
Such a finding, in turn, would increase Petitioner's good
time credits and accelerate ...