United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Paul Joseph Schmura (“Petitioner”) is a federal
prisoner currently incarcerated at F.C.I. Fort Dix in Fort
Dix, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. Respondent filed a response to the Petition and
Petitioner filed a reply. (ECF Nos. 6 & 7). Additionally,
Petitioner filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (ECF
No. 9). Because it appears from a review of the submissions
and the record that Petitioner does not have jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to assert his claims, the
petition will be dismissed.
11, 2013, Petitioner was sentenced in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to
a term of 121 months with a supervised release term of life
for receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 2252(A)(2). Based on his offense, the Federal Bureau
of Prisons (“BOP”) assigned Petitioner a sex
offender public safety factor (“PSF”), resulting
in his custody classification as a “low security”
inmate. This classification renders Petitioner ineligible for
placement at a minimum-security prison camp.
argues in his habeas petition that the BOP violated his due
process rights by arbitrarily and capriciously denying him a
waiver of his sex offender PSF and for not granting him a
hearing on his waiver request. (ECF No. 1 at pp. 6-7).
Petitioner also alleges that the BOP violated his equal
protection rights by refusing to waive his sex offender PSF
because other inmates with a history of violence and
disciplinary infractions have had their PSFs waived. (See
Id. at p. 7). Petitioner requests that this Court cancel
his sex offender PSF, or in the alternative, require the BOP
to conduct an evidentiary hearing regarding the waiver of his
PSF. (See Id. at p. 8).
habeas petition is the proper mechanism for an inmate to
challenge the “fact or duration” of his
confinement, Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475,
498-99 (1973), including challenges to prison disciplinary
proceedings that affect the length of confinement, such as
deprivation of good time credits, Muhammad v. Close,
540 U.S. 749 (2004) and Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S.
641 (1997). Habeas corpus is also an appropriate mechanism
for a federal prisoner to challenge the execution of his
sentence. See Coady v. Vaughn, 251 F.3d 480, 485-86
(3d Cir. 2001); Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476,
478-79 (3d Cir. 1990). In addition, where a prisoner seeks a
“quantum change” in the level of custody, for
example, where a prisoner claims to be entitled to probation,
bond, or parole, habeas is the appropriate form of action.
See, e.g., Graham v. Broglin, 922 F.2d 379 (7th Cir.
1991) and cases cited therein.
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has explained that:
whenever the challenge ultimately attacks the “core of
habeas” the validity of the continued conviction or the
fact or length of the sentence 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).
the Third Circuit revisited this issue in Cardona v.
Bledsoe, 681 F.3d 533 (3d Cir. 2012). In that case, the
Court of Appeals reiterated that in order to invoke §
2241 jurisdiction, a petitioner must challenge the execution
of his sentence. See Cardona, 681 F.3d at 535
(citing Woodall v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d
235, 241 (3d Cir. 2005)). While admitting that the
“precise meaning of ‘execution of sentence'
is hazy, ” the Third Circuit specified that: “In
order to challenge the execution of his sentence under §
2241, Cardona would need to allege that BOP's conduct was
somehow inconsistent with a command or recommendation in the
sentencing judgment.” Id. at 537 (quoting
Woodall, 432 F.3d at 242) (footnote omitted).
Because Cardona's petition did “not concern how BOP
is ‘carrying out' or ‘putting into
effect' his sentence, as directed in his sentencing
judgment, ” he did not challenge the execution of his
sentence, and therefore, there was no § 2241
jurisdiction. Id. at 537.
Petitioner's challenge regarding his custody
classification or PSF does not affect the fact or the length
of his incarceration. Additionally, Petitioner's claim
does not concern or challenge how the BOP is carrying out the
mandates of his sentencing judgment. Rather, Petitioner seeks
a waiver of his custody classification so that he may be
transferred to a minimum-security prison camp. Accordingly,
habeas relief is unavailable to Petitioner. See Hribick
v. Warden Fort Dix FCI, 695 Fed.Appx. 25, 25-26 (3d Cir.
2017) (affirming district court's dismissal of the habeas
petition because the petitioner's challenge to his PSF
and inability to transfer to a prison camp setting “is
not cognizable in a § 2241 petition because he does not
challenge the basic fact or duration of his
imprisonment.”); Briley v. Attorney General United
States, 632 Fed.Appx. 84, 84 (3d Cir. 2016) (affirming
district court's dismissal because petitioner's
challenge to his custody classification was not cognizable in
federal habeas review); Cohen v. Lappin, 402
Fed.Appx. 674, 676 (3d Cir. 2010) (finding that the
petitioner's “challenge to his security designation
and custody classification [do not challenge the basic fact
or duration of his imprisonment] ... In the absence of the
type of change in custody level at issue in Woodall v.
Federal Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235 (3d Cir. 2005),
such an objection is simply not a proper challenge to the
‘execution' of a sentence cognizable in a §
2241 proceeding.”); Levi v. Ebbert, 353
Fed.Appx. 681, 682 (3d Cir. 2009) (“We agree with the
District Court that Levi's claims concerning the
determination of his custody level do not lie at the
‘core of habeas' and, therefore, are not cognizable
in a § 2241 petition. None of his claims challenge the
fact or length of his sentence or confinement.”
(internal citations omitted)). Thus, denial of the habeas
petition is appropriate at this time. In light of the
Court's denial of the habeas petition, Petitioner's
motion for judgment on the pleadings (ECF No. 9) is also