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United States v. Pratt

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 17, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
AARON EDWARD PRATT, Defendant/Petitioner.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          ALLISON CLAIRE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner, a federal prisoner proceeding through counsel, seeks relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. ECF No. 64. Petitioner seeks recalculation of good time credits pursuant to the First Step Act, and immediate transfer to community confinement. The United States has opposed the motion. ECF No. 72.

         I. Background

         In 2001, Mr. Pratt pled guilty to five counts of bank robbery and was sentenced to a total of 235 months imprisonment.[1] He is currently serving that sentence at USP Atwater, within the Eastern District of California. Petitioner represents that he is scheduled to be transferred to a Residential Reentry Center on July 23, 2019, and to be released from BOP custody on January 16, 2020. ECF No. 64 at 2. The Federal Bureau of Prisons represents that the current projected release date is February 10, 2020. ECF NO. 72-1 at 1. Mr. Pratt contends that he is entitled to immediate recalculation of good time credits under the provisions of the First Step Act, which would advance his release date to October 5, 2019. ECF No. 64 at 2.

         II. The First Step Act

         A federal inmate can hasten his release from prison by obtaining good time through “exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary regulations.” See 18 U.S.C. § 3624(a)-(b). As enacted as part of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the statute provides for “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.” § 3624(b). The BOP's method of calculating good time, which has been pegged to time actually served rather than the sentence imposed, results in prisoners actually receiving 47 days of credit for each year of the term of imprisonment. This method of computation has been upheld by the courts. See Barber v. Thomas, 560 U.S. 474 (2010); Pacheco-Camacho v. Hood, 272 F.3d 1266, 1268 (9th Cir. 2001).

         In the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132 Stat. 5194, Congress enacted a package of federal prison and sentencing reforms. Among other things, the Act changes the process by which BOP calculates custody credits. The Ninth Circuit has described the two amendments codified in subsection 102(b) of the Act as follows:

First, paragraph 102(b)(1) amends § 3624(b) - the good time credit provision - to require the BOP to permit up to 54 days per year. § 102(b), 132 Stat. at 5210. Second, paragraph 102(b)(1) amends § 3624 by adding subsection (g), which is relevant to the Act's creation of an earned time credit system. Id. at 5210-13. The Act requires that, within 210 days of its enactment, the Attorney General establish a “risk and needs assessment system” to, broadly speaking, review each prisoner's recidivism risk level, award earned time credit as an incentive for participation in recidivism reduction programming, and “determine when a prisoner is ready to transfer into prerelease custody or supervised release in accordance with section 3624.” § 101(a), 132 Stat. at 5196-97. Section 3624(g) details the criteria for when a prisoner becomes eligible, considering earned time credit, for transfer to prerelease custody or supervised release. § 102(b), 132 Stat. at 5210-13.
Subsection 102(b) also includes an effective-date provision in paragraph 102(b)(2), and a retroactivity provision in paragraph 102(b)(3).
SEC. 102. IMPLEMENTATION OF SYSTEM AND RECOMMENDATIONS BY BUREAU OF PRISONS.
(b) PRERELEASE CUSTODY.- . . .
(2) EFFECTIVE DATE.-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 system under subchapter D of chapter 229 of title 18, United States Code, as added by section 101(a) of this Act.
(3) APPLICABILITY.-The amendments made by this subsection shall apply with respect to offenses committed before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act, except that such amendments shall not apply with ...

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