United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C- Reeves United States District Judge
Jeffery Schmutzler is presently confined at the Federal
Medical Center (“FMC”) - Lexington located in
Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney,
Schmutzler has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, seeking to challenging the
calculation of his sentence. [Record No. 1] The matter is
before the Court for the initial screening required by 28
U.S.C. § 2243. Alexander v. Northern Bureau of
Prisons, 419 Fed.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir.
2013, Schmutzler pleaded guilty in the United States District
Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to one count of
distributing and receiving material involving the sexual
exploitation of minors in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
2252A(a)(2). He was sentenced in August 2013 to a term of
imprisonment of 108 months. United States v.
Schmutzler, No. 1:13-CR-0065-WWC-1 (M.D. Pa.).
Schmutzler is currently projected to be released from custody
on January 21, 2020. See
https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/ (last visited on February
argues in his petition that, in light of the First Step Act
of 2018, the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) should
immediately recalculate his sentence to allow him to take
advantage of amendments affecting the manner in which good
conduct time credits are calculated. The First Step Act,
enacted December 21, 2018, amended 18 U.S.C. §
3624(b)(1) to change the manner in which good time credits
are calculated by increasing the maximum allowable days from
47 to 54 per year. Schmutzler claims that he is currently
scheduled to be released to a halfway house on August 1,
2019, where he will serve the last 6 months of his sentence.
[Record No. 1 at p. 2] He also asserts that he is
participating in a Residential Drug Abuse Program
(“RDAP”) which, according to Schmutzler, requires
that he spend at least 4 months in a halfway house to
complete the program and keep his year-off
incentive. He then argues that, if his sentence is
not immediately recalculated, he will not be able to spend 4
months in a halfway house (as he claims is required by RDAP
policy) and, therefore, will be in jeopardy of being unable
to successfully complete his RDAP and lose his year-off
incentive. [Id.] He also claims that the First Step
Act “orders the BOP to place prisoners in [a] halfway
house for the maximum time allowed, here 6 months.”
[Id. at p. 3]
petition will be denied for the following reasons. First, he
admits that he has not taken steps to formally exhaust his
administrative remedies available within the BOP.
[Id. at p. 3] Before a prisoner may seek habeas
relief under section 2241, he must first exhaust his
administrative remedies within the BOP. Luedtke v.
Berkebile, 704 F.3d 465, 466 (6th Cir. 2013);
Fazzini v. Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, 473
F.3d 229, 231 (6th Cir. 2006). This case underscores the
importance one of the core values that the exhaustion
requirement is designed to serve: ensuring that the Court has
an adequate record before it to review the agency action in
question. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 89 (2006).
Without a full administrative record explaining the BOP's
actions and the reasons for those actions, the Court lacks an
adequate evidentiary basis upon which to review the claims
asserted in the petition. Because Schmutzler concedes that he
did not pursue, much less exhaust, his administrative
remedies before filing his petition, dismissal is warranted.
Schmutzler argues that he should not be required to exhaust
his administrative remedies prior to pursuing his claim
because the BOP's refusal to immediately recalculate his
sentence represents “a general policy contrary to law,
” and he simply does not have enough time to fully
litigate his claim by first being required to pursue remedies
administratively. [Id. at p. 3] However,
Schmutzler's conclusory allegations regarding the
administration of the BOP's Inmate Grievance Program are
wholly insufficient to excuse his failure to pursue his
available administrative remedies before filing his habeas
even if Schmutzler were correct regarding exhaustion, his
claim would be dismissed as being meritless. Schmutzler is
correct that Section 102(b)(1) of the First Step Act of 2018,
Public Law 115-391, amended 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b) to
permit federal inmates to earn 54 days of good conduct time
for each year of the sentence imposed, effectively abrogating
Barber v. Thomas, 560 U.S. 474 (2010). But this
provision has not yet taken effect: Section 102(b)(2) of the
Act specifically provides that the amendments made in
subsection 102(b) of the Act take effect only when the
Attorney General completes the “risk and needs
assessment system” required by Section 101(a) of the
Act. Section 101(a) does not require completion of the system
until 210 days after the Act's enactment. Thus, Section
102(b)(1) will not take effect until approximately July 2019.
the First Step Act does not mandate that the BOP place
prisoners in a halfway house for six months or any other
period. Under the current version of 18 U.S.C. §
3624(c), as amended by the Second Chance Act of 2007, the BOP
is authorized to consider placing an inmate in a
community correctional facility for up to twelve months.
However, a prisoner is neither entitled nor guaranteed such
placement for any minimum amount of time. 18 U.S.C. §
3624(c). See also Heard v. Quintana, 184 F.Supp.3d
515, 520 (E.D. Ky. 2016). See also Demis v. Sniezek,
558 F.3d 508, 514 (6th Cir. 2009); Boals v.
Quintana, No. 5:15-cv-335-JMH, 2015 WL 8665404, at *2
(E.D. Ky. Dec. 11, 2015). Instead, “the decision to
place an inmate in pre-release community confinement and/or
home confinement is discretionary and will be
‘determined on an individual basis' according to
the factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b).”
Boals, 2015 WL 8665404 at *2 (citing McIntosh v.
Hickey, No. 10-cv-126-JMH, 2010 WL 1959308, at *3 (E.D.
Ky. May 17, 2010)). The First Step Act does not alter this
also noteworthy that the BOP's placement decisions,
including determinations regarding halfway house and home
confinement placement, are expressly insulated from judicial
review. The provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act
(“APA”) do not apply to such decisions. 28 U.S.C.
§ 3625 (“The provisions of sections 554 and 555
and 701 through 706 of title 5, United States Code, do not
apply to the making of any determination, decision, or order
under this subchapter.”). Cf. Woodard v.
Quintana, No. 5:15-cv-307-KKC, 2015 WL 7185478, at *5-6
(E.D. Ky. Nov. 13, 2015).
it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
1. Petitioner Jeffery Schmutzler's petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [Record No.
1] is DENIED.
2. This action is DISMISSED with prejudice
and STRICKEN from the Court's docket.
3. Judgment shall be entered contemporaneously with this