United States District Court, D. New Jersey
May 2, 2005.
MICHAEL CARUSO, Petitioner,
JOHN C. MINER, et al., Respondents.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JEROME SIMANDLE, District Judge
Petitioner Michael Caruso, currently confined at the Federal
Correctional Institution at Fairton, New Jersey ("FCI Fairton"),
has submitted a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241.*fn1 Respondents are John C. Miner and the
Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). For the reasons stated herein, the claim for relief will be
denied, and the Petition will be dismissed.
Petitioner is currently serving a sentence of 51 months
imprisonment imposed pursuant to conviction in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
(Petition, Statement of Facts.) Petitioner contends that the
Bureau of Prisons' (BOP) interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1)
is contrary to the unambiguous intent of Congress and is
depriving him of good time credits that should be awarded under
the statute. He contends that additional good time credits
(totaling 230 days) should be awarded by the Federal Bureau of
Prisons ("BOP") based on the total term of imprisonment imposed
in sentencing, rather than on an annual incremental basis for
time served (199 days).
Respecting Petitioner's claim, 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)provides:
Subject to paragraph (2), a prisoner who is serving a
term of imprisonment of more than 1 year other than a
term of imprisonment for the duration of the
prisoner's life, may receive credit toward the
service of the prisoner's sentence, beyond the time
served, of up to 54 days at the end of each year of
the prisoner's term of imprisonment, beginning at the
end of the first year of the term, subject to determination by the Bureau of Prisons that, during
the prisoner has displayed exemplary compliance with
institutional disciplinary regulations . . . Credit
that has not been earned may not later be granted.
Subject to paragraph (2), credit for the last year or
portion of a year of the term of imprisonment shall
be prorated and credited within the last six weeks of
the sentence." 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1). Subparagraph
(b)(2) provides that credits awarded after the date
of enactment (April 26, 1996) of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (Title VII of Pub.L. 104-134)
"shall vest on the date the prisoner is released from
custody." 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(2).
The Bureau of Prisons has codified its interpretation of former
and current § 3624(b) at 28 C.F.R. § 523.20.
(a) When considering good conduct time for an inmate
serving a sentence for an offense committed on or
after April 26, 1996, the Bureau shall award:
(1) 54 days credit for each year served (prorated
when the time served by the inmate for the sentence
during the year is less than a full year) if the
inmate has earned or is making satisfactory progress
toward earning a GED credential or high school
diploma; or . . .
This interpretation is implemented through BOP Program
Statement ("P.S.") 5880.28 (emphasis added). See also
P.S. 5884.01, Good Conduct Time Under the Prison Litigation Reform
Act. The Bureau of Prisons has determined that "54 days of GCT
[("good conduct time")] may be earned for each full year served
on a sentence in excess of one year," P.S. 5880.28(g) (emphasis
added), and has derived a formula to calculate the amount of GCT
that may be earned for any fractional year served on a sentence
in excess of one year: For release purposes, subsection 3624(b) is the most
important provision in the computation process since
the proper application of that subsection determines
the actual statutory date of release for the
prisoner. The release date is determined, of course,
by subtracting the total amount of GCT awarded during
the term of the sentence from the full time date of
the sentence. The total amount of GCT awarded
during the term of a sentence is found by adding the
amount of GCT awarded at the end of each year to the
amount of GCT awarded for the last portion of a year.
As noted in (1) above, 54 days of GCT may be awarded
for each full year served on a sentence in excess
of one year. Since 54 days of GCT per year cannot be
divided evenly into one year, or 12 months, or 52
weeks, or 365 days, determining the amount of GCT
that may be awarded for the last portion of a year on
the sentence becomes arithmetically complicated. The
BOP has developed a formula (hereinafter called the
"GCT formula") that best conforms to the statute when
calculating the maximum number of days that may be
awarded for the time served during the last portion
of a year on the sentence.
The GCT formula is based on dividing 54 days (the
maximum number of days that can be awarded for one
year in service of a sentence) into one day which
results in the portion of one day of GCT that may be
awarded for one day served on a sentence.
[Three-Hundred Sixty Five] days divided into 54 days
equals . 148. Since .148 is less than one full day,
no GCT can be awarded for one day served on the
sentence. Two days of service on a sentence equals
.296 (2 × .148) or zero days GCT; . . . seven days
equals 1.036 (7 × .148) or 1 day GCT. The fraction
is always dropped.
. . .
It is essential to learn that GCT is not awarded on
the basis of the length of the sentence imposed, but
rather on the number of days actually served. In
other words, when the GCT awarded plus the number of days actually served
equals the days remaining on the sentence, then the
prisoner shall be released on the date arrived at in
the computation process. (days remaining on sentence
(GCT days served) = release date) . . .
P.S. 5880.28(g), Sentence Computation Manual CCCA, at 1-40
through 1-45 (emphasis added).
In O'Donald v. Johns, 402 F.3d 172 (3d Cir. 2005), the Third
Circuit deferred to the BOP's reasonable interpretation of the
statute. See also Ogrod v. Bureau of Prisons, 2005 WL 900216
(3rd Cir. April 18, 2005) (deferring to BOP's interpretation of
the statute, citing O'Donald).*fn2 The O'Donald court also rejected the prisoner's suggestion
that his interpretation of the statute should be preferred
because of the rule of lenity. O'Donald v. Johns, supra at 174
(rule of lenity inapplicable where, as here, a court can
otherwise resolve the ambiguity of the statute).
For the reasons set forth above, and based upon the BOP's
permissible interpretation of the statute, Petitioner's claim for
relief will be denied and the Petition will be dismissed.
An appropriate order accompanies this Opinion.