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Reyes v. Bureau of Prisons

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY


April 12, 2010

THOMAS REYES, PETITIONER,
v.
BUREAU OF PRISONS, RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jerome B. Simandle United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court upon submission of Petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241,*fn1 see Docket Entry No. 1, and it appearing that:

1. Petitioner challenges the increase in his FRP collection. See id.

2. Federal law provides two avenues of relief to prisoners: a petition for habeas corpus and a civil rights complaint. See Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004). "Challenges to the validity of any confinement or to particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus... [while] requests for relief turning on circumstances of confinement [fall within the realm of] a § 1983 action."*fn2 Id. As § 1983 action applies only to state actions, it is not available to federal prisoners; the federal counterpart is an action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), alleging deprivation of a constitutional right. See Brown v. Philip Morris, Inc., 250 F.3d 789, 801 (3d Cir. 2001) ("A Bivens action... is the federal equivalent of the § 1983 cause of action against state actors, [it] will lie where the defendant has violated the plaintiff's rights under color of federal law").

3. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit explained the distinction between the availability of civil rights relief and the availability of habeas relief as follows:

[W]henever the challenge ultimately attacks the "core of habeas" - the validity of the continued conviction or the fact or length of the sentence -a challenge, however denominated and regardless of the relief sought, must be brought by way of a habeas corpus petition. Conversely, when the challenge is to a condition of confinement such that a finding in plaintiff's favor would not alter his sentence or undo his conviction, an action under § 1983 is appropriate.

Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 542 (3d Cir. 2002). Therefore, a prisoner is entitled to a writ of habeas corpus only if he "seek[s] to invalidate the duration of [his] confinement - either directly through an injunction compelling speedier release or indirectly through a judicial determination that necessarily implies the unlawfulness of the [government's] custody." See Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81 (2005). In contrast, if a judgment in the prisoner's favor would not affect the fact or duration of the prisoner's incarceration, habeas relief is unavailable and a civil complaint is the appropriate form of remedy.*fn3

See, e.g. Ganim v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 235 Fed. App'x 882 (3rd Cir. 2007) (holding that district court lacks jurisdiction under § 2241 to entertain prisoner's challenge to his transfer between federal prisons); Bronson v. Demming, 56 Fed. App'x 551, 553-54 (3d Cir. 2002) (habeas relief was unavailable to inmate seeking release from disciplinary segregation to general population, and district court properly dismissed habeas petition without prejudice to any right to assert claims in properly filed civil rights complaint).

4. The courts have consistently ruled that challenges to FRP collections fall outside habeas jurisdiction. See, e.g., Douglas v. Martinez, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123708 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 28, 2009) (finding lack of habeas jurisdiction to entertain challenges to F.R.P. collections and citing Easton v. Williamson, 267 Fed. App'x 116 (3d Cir. 2008) ("We agree with the District Court insofar as it concluded that Easton's claim does not fall within the purview of § 2241, because he does not challenge the execution of his sentence, but rather, he challenges the failure of the sentencing court to follow the strictures of the MVRA"); Garcia v. Martinez, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48218 (M.D. Pa. June 9, 2009) (dismissing challenges to F.R.P. collections for lack of jurisdiction); Jennings v. Bureau of Prisons, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36248 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 30, 2009) (same); Warner v. Martinez, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115062 (M.D. Pa. April 10, 2009) (same)). In light of the foregoing, Petitioner's instant application is subject to dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.

IT IS, therefore, on this 12th day of April, 2010, ORDERED that the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is dismissed, for lack of jurisdiction, without prejudice to Petitioner raising his claims in a duly filed civil complaint;*fn4 and it is further

ORDERED that, within thirty days from the date of entry of this Order, Petitioner shall either remit his filing fee of $5.00 or file his duly executed application for waiver of the $5.00 fee in forma pauperis; and it is further

ORDERED that the Clerk shall serve a copy of this Order upon Petitioner, by regular U.S. mail, together with: (a) a blank in forma pauperis form for prisoners seeking habeas relief, (b) a blank in forma pauperis form for prisoners seeking to file a civil complaint, and (c) a blank civil complaint form; and it is finally

ORDERED that the Clerk shall close the file on this matter by making a new and separate entry on the docket reading "CIVIL CASE CLOSED."


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