UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
September 6, 2011
US FBOP, RESPONDENT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Noel L. Hillman United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
IT APPEARING THAT:
1. Petitioner filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging an administrative sanction.
2. Since the Petition arrived unaccompanied by Petitioner's filing fee or his in forma pauperis ("IFP") application, the Court directed Petitioner to submit his filing fee (or a duly executed IFP application) and administratively terminated this matter, subject to reopening upon Petitioner's timely compliance with the Court's directive.
3. On June 27, 2011, Petitioner submitted his filing fee of $5.00.
4. The Petition arrived accompanied by an attachment; the attachment included a detailed record of the administrative proceedings underlying the sanction challenged by Petitioner. The Petition and attached record indicate that Petitioner was sanctioned after excessive amount of stamps was found "inside" Petitioner's mattress.
5. The Petition also indicates that Petitioner was sanctioned to loss of certain privileges (i.e., visitation privileges and loss of right to commissary purchases) for the period of 90 days.
6. However, habeas relief is not available with regard to the sanctions allegedly suffered by Petitioner. In a series of cases beginning with Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), the Supreme Court analyzed the intersection of civil rights and habeas corpus. In Preiser, state prisoners who had been deprived of good-conduct-time credits by the New York State Department of Correctional Services as a result of disciplinary proceedings brought a § 1983 action seeking injunctive relief to compel restoration of the credits, which would have resulted in their immediate or speedier release. See id. at 476. The prisoners did not seek compensatory damages for the loss of their credits. See id. at 494. Assessing the prisoners' challenge, the Supreme Court held that a prisoner must bring a suit for equitable relief that, effectively, challenges "the fact or duration of confinement" as a habeas corpus petition. See id. at 500. 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).*fn1 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. 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 (3rd 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).*fn2
7. Therefore, Petitioner's claims are not cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 because the loss of Petitioner's visitation and commissary privileges do not affect the fact or duration of his confinement. See Ganim, 235 Fed. App'x 882 (3d Cir. 2007); Bronson, 56 Fed. App'x 551 (3d Cir. 2002); Woodall v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 432 F. 3d 235, 242 n.5 (3d Cir. 2005). Thus, Petitioner's challenges will be dismissed for lack of habeas corpus jurisdiction. Such dismissal will be without prejudice to Petitioner's commencement of a civil action based on the alleged sanctions.*fn3 IT IS, therefore, on this 6th day of September , 2011, ORDERED that Petitioner's motion, Docket Entry No. 5, seeking restoration of this matter to the Court's active docket, is granted; and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk shall restore this matter to the Court's active docket by making a new and separate entry on the docket reading "CIVIL CASE REOPENED"; and it is further
ORDERED that the Petition, Docket Entry No. 1, is dismissed for lack of habeas corpus jurisdiction, without prejudice to Petitioner's initiation of a separate civil action raising the claims asserted in this matter; and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk shall serve a copy of this Memorandum Opinion and Order upon Petitioner by regular U.S. mail; 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."
Noel L. Hillman
At Camden, New Jersey