United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
EARL S. WALTERS, Petitioner,
ISRAEL JACQUEZ, Respondent.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Alice Theiler United States Magistrate Judge
Earl Walters is a federal prisoner who is currently confined
at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington. He has
presented to the Court for review a petition for writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Dkt. 3.)
Petitioner asserts in his petition that he is being
unlawfully deprived of good time credits because the Federal
Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has not recalculated
the application of such credits to his sentence in accordance
with the First Step Act of 2018. (See id. at 2, 6,
9-13.) Petitioner asks that the Court direct the BOP to
recalculate his good time credits and to declare that the new
calculation governs his release date. (Id. at 7,
14.) Petitioner contends that, if the requested relief is
granted, he would be entitled to an additional 35 days of
good time credit, resulting in a projected release date of
February 26, 2020, and that he would be eligible for
pre-release to a halfway house or home confinement on or
about August 26, 2019. (See Dkt. 8 at 1.)
in his answer to the petition, contends that petitioner's
petition is premature and unripe because the provision of the
First Step Act under which he seeks relief has not yet taken
effect and will not take effect until July 19, 2019. (Dkt. 7
at 3-4.) Respondent notes that other district courts that
have considered petitions alleging claims similar to those
presented by petitioner have denied relief because the
amendment has not yet taken effect. (See id. at
4-5.) Respondent also contends that relief is not appropriate
because petitioner failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies. (Id. at 6-8.)
claim for relief arises out of provisions of the First Step
Act which was signed into law on December 21, 2018.
See Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132 Stat. 5194 (2018).
Subsection 102(b)(1) of the Act amended 18 U.S.C. §
3624(b)(1) to change the method by which the BOP calculates
good conduct time credits. This amendment permits federal
inmates to earn up to 54 days of good conduct time for each
year of the sentence imposed, rather than the effective rate
of 47 days of credit that resulted from the manner in which
the BOP calculated good time credit under § 3624(b)(1)
prior to the amendment. Subsection 102(b)(2) of the Act
delays implementation of all amendments to § 3624 until
210 days following enactment of the Act, or until July 19,
2019. It is this “effective date” provision which
is at the heart of this case.
instant petition is one of a large number of § 2241
habeas petitions filed by federal prisoners seeking immediate
recalculation of their good time credits under the provisions
of the First Step Act. In a significant number of these
cases, the petitioners argued that they were entitled to
release, or pre-release to a halfway house or home
confinement, prior to July 19, 2019.
Johnston v. Jacquez, C19-550-JLR, the first of this
body of cases to be decided in this Court, the Court
expressly rejected the respondent's arguments that the
petition was subject to dismissal because it was unripe and
because the petitioner failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies. See No. C19-550-JLR, Dkts. 12, 14. With
respect to the issue of ripeness, the Court noted that the
gravamen of the petitioner's petition was that the good
time fix amendment should have taken effect immediately upon
enactment of the First Step Act on December 21, 2018, and
that if the Court had accepted his argument he would have
been entitled to release prior to July 19, 2019. See
id., Dkt. 12 at 8-10. The Court explained that forcing
the petitioner to wait until the amendment took effect would
moot his claim, and it therefore concluded that the petition
was “not unripe.” See id. at 10.
respect to the issue of exhaustion, the Court concluded in
Johnston that requiring the petitioner to exhaust
his administrative remedies would be futile because the BOP
had predetermined the issue, making clear that any requests
for the calculation of good time credits under the amended
statute would be denied because the statute was not effective
immediately. Id. at 10-12. As to the merits of the
petitioner's claims, the Court concluded that the
petition should be denied because subsection 102(b)(1) of the
Act, the good time fix amendment, had not yet taken effect
and, under the specific terms of the Act, would not take
effect until July 19, 2019. See id. at 15-20.
Finally, the Court rejected the petitioner's claim that
the delayed implementation of the good time fix amendment
violated his due process and equal protection rights.
Id. at 12-15.
action differs from Johnston because here, even if
petitioner were to receive an immediate recalculation of his
good-time credits, the end of his term of confinement is not
imminent and will not pass prior to July 19, 2019, the date
on which the provision of the First Step Act under which he
seeks relief will take effect. It is therefore abundantly
clear that petitioner's petition is premature and should
be dismissed on this basis. This case also differs from
Johnston with respect to the issue of exhaustion. In
Johnston, the Court determined that it would be
futile to require the petitioner to exhaust his
administrative remedies because the BOP had made clear that
it would deny requests for calculation of good time credits
under the amended statute because the statute was not yet
effective, and the petitioner was claiming a right to
immediate release. In this case, petitioner's projected
release date under the amended statute is still well in the
future giving petitioner time to make use of the
administrative remedy process provided by the BOP,
see 28 C.F.R. § 542.10, et seq.,
before seeking review in this Court.
foregoing reasons, this Court recommends that
petitioner's federal habeas petition be dismissed. A
proposed order accompanies this Report and Recommendation.
to this Report and Recommendation, if any, should be filed
with the Clerk and served upon all parties to this suit
within fourteen (14) days of the date on
which this Report and Recommendation is signed. Failure to
file objections within the specified time may affect your
right to appeal. Objections should be noted for consideration
on the District Judge's motions calendar for the third
Friday after they are filed. Responses to objections may be
filed within fourteen (14) days after
service of objections. If no timely objections are filed, the
matter will be ready for consideration by the District Judge
on July 19, 2019.
See e.g., Jeffreys v.
Jacquez, C19-323-JLR-MLP; Queen v. Jacquez,
C19-440-TSZ-MAT; Lestrick v. Jacquez,
C19-476-JLR-MLP; Acedo v. Jacquez, C19-529-RSM-MLP;
Corbett v. Jacquez, C19-531-MJP-BAT; Ephrem v.
Jacquez, C19-534-RAJ-BAT; Gandarilla-Duarte v.
Jacquez, C19-535-RSL-MAT; Garcia-Orante v.
Jacquez, C19-536-RAJ-MLP; Soundingsides v.
Jacquez, C19-544-JCC-MLP; Turner v. Jacquez,
C19-545-JCC-BAT; Rigney v. Jacquez, C19-548-RSL-MLP;
Corbitt v. ...