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Garcia v. Zickefoose

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 25, 2013

MICHAEL A. GARCIA, Petitioner,
v.
DONNA ZICKEFOOSE, Respondent.

MICHAEL A. GARCIA, Petitioner pro se, F.C.I. Fort Dix, Fort Dix, New Jersey.

MARK CHRISTOPHER ORLOWSKI, AUSA, OFFICE OF THE U.S. ATTORNEY, Newark, New Jersey, Counsel for Respondent.

OPINION

JEROME B. SIMANDLE, District Judge.

Petitioner, Michael A. Garcia, a federal prisoner confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey ("FCI Fort Dix"), brings this habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the decision by the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") regarding his placement on the wait list for entry in the Residential Drug Abuse Program ("RDAP").

Based on this Court's review of the pleadings and relevant record as provided by Respondent, this petition will be denied for lack of merit. In addition, Petitioner's motions for discovery and appointment of counsel, (Docket Nos. 11, 12), will be denied as moot.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP)

In 1990, Congress charged the BOP with making available "appropriate substance abuse treatment for each prisoner the Bureau determines has a treatable condition of substance addiction or abuse." 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). To carry out that requirement, as part of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, ("VCCLEA"), (Pub.L. 103-322), Congress amended § 3621 to require the BOP, subject to the availability of appropriations, to provide residential substance abuse treatment for all "eligible" prisoners. See 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(1)(C). An "eligible" prisoner is one who is "determined by the Bureau of Prisons to have a substance abuse problem, " and who is "willing to participate in a residential substance abuse treatment program." 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(5)(B) (i) and (ii). As an incentive for successful completion of the residential treatment program, the period of time a prisoner convicted of a nonviolent offense remains in custody after successfully completing such a treatment program may be reduced up to one year by the BOP. See 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2).

Effective March 16, 2009, 28 C.F.R. § 550.55 codified the eligibility criteria for inmates seeking early release under the RDAP. The BOP also follows Program Statements ("PS") 5330.11, Psychology Treatment Programs, and PS 5331.02, Release Procedures Under § 3621(e), in determining an inmate's qualification for participation in the RDAP. Under PS 5330.11, once an inmate is deemed qualified for participation in the RDAP, he is placed on a waiting list based on his "proximity to release date, " typically no later than 24 months from release. (Dkt. # 9-2, Declaration of Dr. Christina Ganz at ¶ 3, and Attachment 3.) Thus, priority on the waiting list is based an inmate's projected Good Conduct Time ("GCT") release date, not the provisional early release date. ( Id. ) According to Dr. Ganz, "[i]nmates may move up or down the waiting list based on continuous movement in and out of the institution, and continuous RDAP interviews." ( Id. )

B. Pertinent Factual History

On August 16, 2011, Petitioner was deemed qualified for participation in the RDAP. He was then placed on the RDAP waiting list at FCI Fort Dix. (Dkt. # 9-2, Ganz Decl. at ¶ 4, Attachments 1, 2.) On September 30, 2011, Petitioner was found to be eligible for early release under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e). ( Id. ) At the time the Government filed its response to the habeas petition, on October 23, 2012, Petitioner was still on the RDAP waiting list at FCI Fort Dix. ( Id. )

Petitioner filed an administrative remedy with the Warden at FCI Fort Dix, on December 22, 2011, challenging the RDAP enrollment practices as flawed and requesting immediate placement in the RDAP. Principally, Petitioner argued that RDAP enrollment should not be based on an inmate's projected release date. (Dkt. # 9-1, Declaration of Tara Moran at ¶ 5 and Exhibit 2.) The Warden denied Petitioner's administrative remedy request on December 30, 2011, finding as follows:

A review of this matter revealed you currently are on the wait-list for the RDAP and have a projected release date of August 13, 2014. Inmates are scheduled to commence this program based upon the time remaining on their sentence. According to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(1)(C), all eligible inmates are given the opportunity to participate in RDAP, with priority for such treatment accorded based on an eligible prisoner's proximity to release ...

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