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Monday, December 19, 2005

BOP Regulations Categorically Limiting Amount of Time Inmate May be Placed in CCC Declared Invalid

The Third Circuit has ruled that newly enacted Bureau of Prisons (BOP) regulations categorically limiting the amount of time an inmate may be placed in a Community Corrections Center, to the lesser of ten percent of the prisoner's total sentence or six months, are invalid because they conflict with Congress' explicit directive in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b) to make individualized assessments regarding placement and transfer determinations. In Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, No. 05-3657 (3d Cir. Dec. 15, 2005), Woodall, a federal inmate, challenged the BOP's failure to follow a District Court recommendation that he be placed in a CCC for the last six months of his 30 month sentence. Citing 28 C.F.R. §§ 570.20, 570.21 (enacted 2/15/05), the BOP explained that Woodall was only eligible to serve 11 weeks (10%) of his total sentence in a CCC.

After concluding that Woodall's petition was properly filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (challenging the "execution" of his sentence), the Third Circuit concluded that the BOP's regulations, containing a categorical limitation on placement, conflicted with Congress' statutory directive, under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), requiring the BOP to consider individualized factors in making placement and transfer determinations. Accordingly, the Third Circuit granted Woodall's habeas petition and ordered the BOP to reconsider whether to transfer Woodall to a CCC after analyzing the § 3621 factors.

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