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Sheppard v. Quintana

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

February 19, 2019

JASON C. SHEPPARD, Petitioner,
v.
FRANCISCO QUINTANA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition and various additional motions filed by Petitioner Jason C. Sheppard, an inmate at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Sheppard filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus in late 2018 to challenge a prison disciplinary conviction he received and certain consequences of that conviction. [See R. 1; R. 10.] The Court asked the Warden to respond to Sheppard's request for relief, and the matter is now ripe for the Court's review. For the reasons that follow, Sheppard's petition is DENIED and his related pending motions will also be DENIED.

         I

         In 2016, Jason Sheppard was convicted of mail fraud in the Western District of Pennsylvania. [See, e.g., R. 10 at 2.] As a result of this conviction and a subsequent violation of Sheppard's term of supervised release, Sheppard is currently serving a total sentence of forty months of imprisonment with three years of supervised release. [R. 23 at 1.]

         As part of his sentence, Sheppard was previously housed at Renewal, Inc., a halfway house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Id. at 2.] While there, Sheppard received a Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) disciplinary conviction, “Incident Report No. 3141649”, for escaping the halfway house. [Id.] In addition to the escape charge, Sheppard's disciplinary record also contains an incident report for Code 112, Use of Alcohol, and an incident report for Code 305, possession of unauthorized items. [See R. 23-1 at 68.] Sheppard's 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition challenges the validity of Incident Report 3141649 as well as the impact of that incident report on his ability to participate in the BOP's Residential Drug Abuse Program (“RDAP”), completion of which may result in a shortened sentence. Sheppard's petition argues (1) that the disciplinary hearing underlying Incident Report 3141649 violated his due process rights; (2) that, on appeal, the Regional Office ordered either a rehearing of the matter or expungement of the report within thirty days; and (3) that neither a hearing nor expungement occurred during the requisite thirty days. [R. 10.] Sheppard's petition asks the Court to have Incident Report 3141649 expunged and, subsequently, for his RDAP participation and shortened sentence to be reinstated. [Id.]

         After Sheppard filed his § 2241 petition but before the Warden filed his response, the BOP conducted a rehearing on Incident Report 3141649 and expunged it from Sheppard's record. As a result, the BOP also restored forty-one days of good time credit to Sheppard's sentence, advancing his projected release date from October 17, 2019, to September 12, 2019. [See R. 18; R. 23 at 2.] Further, the BOP reviewed Sheppard's eligibility for RDAP but found that, due to the other independent violations previously committed by Sheppard, he remains ineligible for RDAP even after Incident Report 3141649 was removed from his record. [R. 23 at 2-3.]

         Sheppard's § 2241 petition is now fully briefed and before the Court for consideration. The Court addresses Sheppard's petition and three other pending motions below.

         II

         A

         Upon the Court's review of the record, the first issue presented by Sheppard's § 2241 petition is now moot. Thanks to the rehearing recently conducted by the BOP, Incident Report 3141649 was expunged from Sheppard's record and forty-one days of good time credit were rightfully restored. [See R. 18.] Accordingly, the arguments in Sheppard's petition seeking expungement of the incident report have been addressed, and those claims will therefore be dismissed as moot. See Berger v. Cuyahoga Cnty. Bar Ass'n, 983 F.2d 718, 724 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting Carras v. Williams, 807 F.2d 1286, 1289 (6th Cir. 1986)) (“Mootness results when events occur during the pendency of the litigation which render the court unable to grant the requested relief.”).

         However, the mootness of that one issue does not automatically resolve the other argument presented in Sheppard's petition. Though the Warden asserts that Sheppard received “all the relief he requested . . . and thus the case is now moot, ” [see R. 23 at 6], Sheppard's petition plainly also requests that his “3621(e) for RDAP” be reinstated. [See R. 10 at 8, R. 10-1 at 2.] Sheppard correctly recognizes that “the reinstatement of [his] 3621(e) early release for RDAP pursuant to Bureau of Prisons Program Statement 5331.02 remains a viable issue to be solved” despite the mootness of the incident report question. [R. 24 at 1.] Nevertheless, Sheppard is not entitled to the relief he seeks.

         Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B), the BOP may reduce the length of incarceration for certain nonviolent offenders as an incentive for their completion of a residential substance abuse treatment program, such as RDAP. The BOP exercises discretion regarding whether to grant RDAP graduates early release or modified conditions of confinement, and even when an inmate successfully completes RDAP, the BOP still enjoys the discretion to deny that inmate early release. See Lopez v. Davis, 531 U.S. 230, 241 (2001); Orr v. Hawk, 156 F.3d 651, 653-54 (6th Cir. 1998).

         In his petition, Sheppard contends that he was removed from RDAP solely because of Incident Report 3141649, and upon expulsion of that incident report, he should be once again allowed to participate in the program and earn time off of his overall sentence. In making this argument, Sheppard emphasizes BOP Program Statement 5331.02, which indicates that inmates should be given one formal warning before being removed from RDAP. [See R. 24; R. 24-1.]

         Program Statement 5331.02 notwithstanding, the record before the Court indicates that additional incident reports independently prohibit Sheppard from completing RDAP and earning a shortened sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e). See BOP Program Statement 5330.11, § 550.53(g)(3) (explaining that inmates will be immediately removed from RDAP if a hearing officer finds that they have committed one of various prohibited acts, including a prohibited act involving alcohol or “any 100-level series incident”). [See also R. 23-1 at 4 (explaining Sheppard's other violations); R. 23-1 at 68 (listing an incident report for use of ...


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