Friday, June 22, 2012

BOP and Retaliatory Placement

     In Cardona v. Bledsoe, No. 10-2650 (3d Cir. June 19, 2012), the Court held that a suit for retaliatory placement in the special housing unit of a federal prison is properly brought under Bivens, not § 2241; affirms district court’s dismissal of suit.

     In this § 2241 habeas case from the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the petitioner is a federal prisoner who alleged that he was placed in the special management unit of USP-Lewisburg in retaliation for his litigation against the BOP. He petitioned pro se under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The district court dismissed without prejudice to file as a civil rights lawsuit with the same allegations under Bivens, and Cardona appealed.
     The Third Circuit has held that § 2241 “confers habeas jurisdiction to hear the petition of a federal prisoner who is challenging not the validity but the execution of his sentence.” Woodall v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235 (3d Cir. 2005). In that case, the Circuit defined “execution” as “carrying out” the directives of the sentencing judgment. The panel concludes that Cardona has failed to allege that placement in the SMU was inconsistent with a command or recommendation in the sentencing judgment, and therefore his claim does not fall under § 2241.
     The panel also considers whether Cardona’s claim goes to the length of his confinement, which can be challenged via § 2241, due to the potential loss of good time credits during SMU placement. The panel concludes that because the loss of good time credits is not definite, the placement does not “necessarily imply” a change in the duration of his confinement, and the claim is not properly brought under § 2241 as a challenge to the length of confinement.
    The panel affirms the district court’s dismissal of the petition.
Maria Pulzetti, EDPA, Capital Habeas Unit

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