United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
JAMES D. LUEDTKE, Petitioner,
ROBERT FARLEY, WARDEN, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KAREN K. CALDWELL, Chief Judge.
James D. Luedtke is an inmate confined in the United States Penitentiary-Big Sandy ("USP-Big Sandy") located in Inez, Kentucky. Proceeding pro se, Luedtke filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, claiming that USP-Big Sandy officials have (1) violated his Thirteenth Amendment rights by refusing to pay him the wages he has earned in his prison job, (2) failed to require all inmates to work, (3) racially discriminated against white inmates in favor of black inmates and "illegal aliens from Mexico, " and (4) improperly placed him in refusal status for the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program ("IFRP"), in violation of his due process rights. On initial screening, the Court dismissed Luedtke's petition without prejudice, noting that his first three claims could not be raised in a § 2241 petition and must be presented in a civil action filed under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 408 U.S. 388 (1971). As to the fourth claim, the Court noted that while it is cognizable under § 2241, Luedtke had not established that he had exhausted his administrative remedies on that claim prior to filing the habeas petition. For this reason, Luedtke's habeas petition was dismissed without prejudice to his filing a new petition asserting his IFRP claim where he can demonstrate that he has exhausted his administrative remedies as to that claim. [R. 7]
Luedtke appealed the dismissal. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Luedtke's first three claims, but vacated the dismissal of his fourth claim and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that the dismissal of Luedtke's fourth claim at the screening stage for failure to plead exhaustion or attach exhibits with proof of exhaustion was error. Luedtke v. Berkebile, 704 F.3d 465 (6th Cir. 2013). On remand, the Respondent has filed a response to Luedtke's petition. This matter is ripe for review. Having now considered Luedtke's fourth claim on the merits, for the reasons stated below, the Court concludes that said claim is without merit and that he is not entitled to no relief thereon.
Following a jury trial in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Luedtke was convicted of bank robbery, brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, being a felon in possession of a firearm that had been transported in interstate commerce, and aiding and abetting the making of a false statement in the sale and disposition of a firearm. United States v. James D. Luedtke, Criminal No. 03-CR-37 (E.D. Wis. 2003). [R. 18-3] On January 14, 2004, Luedtke received an aggregate sentence of 444 months, to be followed by a five-year term of supervised release. Id. Luedtke was also ordered to pay a $500.00 criminal monetary penalty and $12, 377.00 in restitution. Id. The Judgment further specified that payment of the penalty and restitution was to begin immediately, and Luedtke was directed to participate in the BOP's IFRP. Id.
Luedtke arrived at USP-Big Sandy on February 3, 2010. Declaration of Stephen Lockwood, ¶ 4 and Attachment C, SENTRY Report, Inmate History [R. 18-1, p. 2; R. 18-4] Pursuant to BOP Program Statement 5380.08, Financial Responsibility Program, Inmate, and the IFRP, the Unit Team developed a payment plan with Luedtke. Initially, he concurred with the plan, agreeing to make quarterly payments of $25, beginning in September 2010. Id., Attachment D, Inmate Financial Plan [R. 18-5] Luedtke made the payments as agreed until June 2011, when he missed that payment. [R. 18-6, p. 2] Luedtke was counseled, provided with a Failure to Make Payment Notice, and advised that his next payment was due in September 2011. Id. Luedtke also failed to make the September 2011 payment. Id.
In November 2011, Luedtke was placed in "IRFP Refusal Status" Id. He was notified thereof, advised as to why he was placed there and as to the consequences of being in "IFRP Refusal Status." Id. Specifically, by Memorandum to Luedtke dated November 16, 2011, Correctional Officer J. Kelly explained that he had been placed in IFRP Refusal Status for the following reasons:
You have not followed your established payment plan because of insufficient funds in your account at the time scheduled FRP payments were due. A review of your commissary account records indicates that you did receive sufficient funds either money order and/or performance pay, but chose to use funds for other purposes.
Your current FRP Refusal Status will continue until you establish an acceptable payment plan and make the necessary progress in complying with the provisions of your financial responsibility.
[R. 18-7, p. 1]
A separate form document was attached to this Memorandum advising an inmate that he had been placed in FRP Refusal Status and that such status will result in certain adverse consequences to the inmate, itemizing a list of associated penalties, including ineligibility for (1) furloughs, (2) performance pay above the maintenance pay level, (3) job placement in UNICOR, (4) community-based programs, (5) release gratuity, and (6) incentive for participation in Residential Drug Treatment Program, as well as a $25 monthly limit on inmate commissary purchases, being placed in the lowest housing status (top bunk), and receiving a zero score on the "Responsibility" section of the inmate's Custody Classification score. [R. 18-7, p. 2]
Luedtke remained in "IFRP Refusal Status" until April 10, 2012, when he was placed in "FRP Exempt Status" due to a lack of funds in his inmate account during the previous months. Declaration of Stephen Lockwood, ¶ 6; Attachment E [R. 18-1, pp. 2-4; R. 18-6, p. 1] Under BOP Program Statement 5380.08, Financial Responsibility Program, Inmate, the Unit Team can place an inmate in a "Temporarily Exempt from Participation" status when an inmate is unable to obtain employment in Unicor, advance beyond maintenance pay, or has limited financial resources. [See Program Statement, Inmate 5380.08, p. 14 [R. 18-8, p. 14] Per this Program Statement, the Unit Team reviews an inmate's exempt status during subsequent program reviews and changes are made as needed. Id. Respondent advises that Luedtke has been in temporarily exempt status since April 10, 2012, where he still was of August 22, 2013. Declaration of Stephen Lockwood, ¶ 6 [R. 18-1, p. 4] Consequently, no sanctions have been imposed against him after April 10, 2012, for his failure to make timely payments under the FRP. Id.
Although 28 U.S.C. § 2241 contains no statutory exhaustion requirement, federal courts consistently require federal prisoners to fully exhaust the BOP's available administrative remedies before filing a petition seeking habeas corpus relief pursuant to § 2241. Fazzini v. Northeast Ohio Corr. Center, 473 F.3d 229, 231 ...