United States District Court, D. New Jersey
DANNY L. BLACKMON, Petitioner,
WARDEN FCI FORT DIX, Respondent.
L. Blackmon, Petitioner pro se Craig Carpenito, United States
Attorney John Andrew Ruymann, AUSA Office of the United
Christina Saetta Clark, Esq. Attorney Advisor, Federal Bureau
of Prisons Of Counsel Attorneys for Respondent Warden FCI
B. Simandle, U.S. District Judge.
Danny L. Blackmon, a federal prisoner confined at FCI Fort
Dix, New Jersey, has filed an amended petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [Docket
Entry 3]. Petitioner asserts that the Bureau of Prisons
(“BOP”) improperly reduced the amount of good
conduct time (“GCT”) he was earning after he
voluntarily withdrew from the GED program at Fort Dix. He
asks the Court to reinstate the lost time and order the BOP
to allow him to withdraw from the program without further
principal issues to be decided are (1) whether the BOP
reasonably interpreted and applied its policies when it
reduced Petitioner's GCT earning capacity from 54 days to
42 days per year after he withdrew from the GED program; and
(2) whether Petitioner's due process rights were
violated. The Court finds that the BOP was reasonable in its
interpretation and application of its policies and that
Petitioner's due process rights were not violated.
Therefore, the Court will deny the petition for the reasons
December 14, 2004, Petitioner was sentenced to a 365-month
term of imprisonment in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of North Carolina. United States v.
Blackmon, No. 03-cr-00077 (E.D. N.C. Dec. 14, 2004). The
BOP has calculated his current projected release date as
August 14, 2030 based on his GCT. [Declaration of Tara Moran
“Moran Dec.” Exhibit 1, Docket Entry 8-1 at 6].
began taking GED classes in April 2005 shortly after entering
the BOP system. [Docket Entry 1 ¶ 5]. On March 29, 2015,
Petitioner requested permission to leave the GED program.
[Docket Entry 1-1 at 10]. As of that date, he had accumulated
2130 hours of class time. [Id.; see also
Docket Entry 1 ¶ 5]. Petitioner's case manager, Ms.
Dykes, counseled him that his GCT could be affected if he
withdrew from the program. [Docket Entry 1-1 at 10].
Petitioner signed a form indicating he had been advised of
that fact and understood. [Id.]. Petitioner was
placed in GED UNSAT status as of April 15, 2015. [Moran Dec.
Exhibit 5, Docket Entry 8-1 at 21]. He began to accrue a
reduced amount of 42 days of GCT per year in July 2015, down
from the 54 days per year he had been earning while enrolled
in the program. [Docket Entry 8 at 11].
filing an unsuccessful informal grievance, Petitioner filed
an administrative remedy with the Fort Dix warden on July 18,
2015 objecting to the reduction in the amount of his annual
earned GCT. He argued that the relevant BOP Program
Statement, Program Statement 5350.28, permitted inmates to
voluntarily withdraw from the GED program without penalty
after completing 240 hours towards the degree. [Moran Dec.
Exhibit 2, Docket Entry 8-1 at 12-13]. The warden denied the
request on July 31, 2015 on the basis that “[a]ttaining
240 hours or more in the program means that you cannot
receive an incident report (disciplinary sanction) for
failing to attend class; however, in order to receive 54 days
of GCT a year, you must still be making satisfactory progress
towards your GED.” [Id. at 14]. Petitioner
appealed the warden's decision to the BOP Northeast
Region. [Moran Dec. Exhibit 3, Docket Entry 8-1 at 16]. The
Regional Director denied the appeal on September 11, 2015.
[Id. at 17]. Petitioner appealed to the BOP's
Central Office on November 23, 2015. [Moran Dec. Exhibit 4,
Docket Entry 8-1 at 19]. The Central Office did not respond
by January 22, 2016. [Moran Dec. ¶ 5]. Respondent
concedes Petitioner has exhausted his administrative
remedies. [Docket Entry 8 at 5].
subsequently filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in this Court. [Docket Entry 1].
The Court originally administratively terminated the petition
as Petitioner did not submit the petition on the required
form or submit the filing fee or an application to proceed
in forma pauperis. [Docket Entry 2]. Petitioner
submitted an amended petition and in forma pauperis
application. [Docket Entry 3]. The Court reopened the case,
granted the in forma pauperis application, and
ordered Respondent to answer the petition. [Docket Entry 4].
Respondent filed an answer, [Docket Entry 8], and Petitioner
filed a traverse, [Docket Entry 9]. The matter is ripe for
disposition without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b).
brings this petition as a pro se litigant. The Court has an
obligation to liberally construe pro se pleadings and to hold
them to less stringent standards than more formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007); Higgs v. Attorney Gen. of the U.S., 655
F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011), as amended (Sept. 19,
2011) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976)). A pro se habeas petition and any supporting
submissions must be construed liberally and with a measure of
tolerance. See Royce v. Hahn, 151 F.3d 116, 118 (3d
Cir. 1998); Lewis v. Attorney Gen., 878 F.2d 714,
721-22 (3d Cir. 1989); United States v. Brierley,
414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 399
U.S. 912 (1970).
2241 “confers habeas jurisdiction to hear the petition
of a federal prisoner who is challenging not the validity but
the execution of his sentence.” Coady v.
Vaughn, 251 F.3d 480, 485 (3d Cir. 2001).
Petitioner's claims that the BOP unreasonably interpreted
and applied its policies and that it violated his due process
rights when it reduced his GCT award are appropriately before
the Court under § 2241 as a finding in ...