United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jorge Solano-Moreta, a federal prisoner, filed a habeas
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 complaining of the
Federal Bureau of Prisons's (BOP) decision to place him
in a state facility. Petitioner alleges that he is a
medium-level security prisoner and, as a result of the
BOP's decision to place Petitioner with the Michigan
Department of Corrections (MDOC), the MDOC has decided to
house Petitioner in a maximum-security facility. Petitioner
alleges that living conditions at the MDOC facility are cruel
and unusual, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and that
Petitioner's placement in a maximum-security facility,
absent compliance with certain procedures, violated the
BOP's policies, as well as Petitioner's right to due
process. (ECF No. 1at PageID.7-10.) For relief, Petitioner
requests a declaratory judgment that the BOP violated its
procedures and policies, as well as Petitioner's due
process rights, by placing him in a state maximum-security
facility. Petitioner also requests an order directing the BOP
to place Petitioner in a federal prison facility or,
alternatively, transfer Petitioner to a state medium-level
facility. (Id. at PageID.12.) Petitioner names the
BOP and Robert Napel, the warden of the state facility, as
September 30, 2014, Magistrate Judge Greeley issued a Report
and Recommendation (R & R) recommending that the Court
dismiss Petitioner's § 2241 petition without
prejudice to allow Petitioner to file his claims in a civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
magistrate judge construed Petitioner's § 2241
petition as complaining about the conditions of his
confinement, rather than seeking an earlier or immediate
release from custody. (ECF No. 2 at PageID.18.) The
magistrate judge therefore concluded that Petitioner's
claims fall outside the scope of habeas corpus relief and
instead must be brought in a civil rights action.
has filed an Objection to the Report and Recommendation, in
which he argues that he may challenge his confinement in the
state facility through a § 2241 petition because he
challenges the execution of his sentence or the manner in
which it is being served. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b), upon receiving an objection to a report and
recommendation, the district judge “shall make a de
novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified proposed findings or recommendations to which
objection is made.” After conducting a de novo review
of the R & R, Petitioner's Objection, and the
Petition, the Court concludes that the R & R should be
adopted for the reasons set forth in the R & R and for
the additional reasons set forth below.
magistrate judge correctly concluded that Petitioner's
challenges must be brought in a civil rights action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Petitioner complains about being housed
in a maximum security facility and about the conditions at
that facility. Claims that concern conditions of a
prisoner's confinement “do not relate to the
legality of the petitioner's confinement, nor do they
relate to the legal sufficiency of the criminal court
proceedings which resulted in the incarceration of the
petitioner.” Lutz v. Hemingway, 476 F.Supp.2d
715, 718 (E.D. Mich. 2007) (internal quotation marks
omitted). “[C]onstitutional claims that merely
challenge the conditions of a prisoner's confinement,
whether the inmate seeks monetary or injunctive relief, fall
outside of th[e] core [of habeas relief] and may be brought
pursuant to [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 in the first
instance.” Nelson v. Campbell 541 U.S. 637,
643, 124 S.Ct. 2117, 2122 (2004). Petitioner's claims are
outside the realm of habeas relief and must be brought in a
civil rights action. See Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d
710, 712-14 (6th Cir. 2004) (concluding that a
petitioner's § 2241 petition seeking a transfer to a
different facility for medical treatment should have been
brought in an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983); Shah
v. Quintana, No. 5:16-122-KKC, 2016 WL 2599113, at *1
(E.D. Ky. May 5, 2016) (“Shah's challenge to his
placement in segregation and request to be returned to the
general population constitutes a challenge to the conditions
of his confinement, and must be assessed in a civil rights
action pursuant to the doctrine announced in Bivens v.
Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388
(1971).”); Simmons v. Curtin, No. 10-cv-14751,
2010 WL 5279914, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 17, 2010)
(“Simmons's challenges to his security
classification and resulting transfer to a different facility
. . . are not attacks upon the execution of his sentence, and
therefore, are not cognizable under § 2241.”). In
fact, courts have held that § 2241 may not be used as a
vehicle to challenge prison placements and transfer
decisions. See Boyce v. Ashcroft, 251 F.3d 911, 917
(10th Cir. 2001) (“[Section 2241] may not be used to
challenge a prisoner's placement within a given
jurisdictional entity, such as the federal prison
system.”), vacated on grounds of mootness,
Boyce v. Ashcroft, 268 F.3d 953, 954 (10th Cir.
2001)); McCarthy v. Ebbert, No. 1:14-CV-2091, 2014
WL 6773847, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 2, 2014) (holding that the
petitioner's challenge to his placement in a particular
facility was a challenge to the conditions of his confinement
that must proceed in a civil rights action rather than a
habeas petition under § 2241 because the petitioner did
not allege that his placement was inconsistent with his
sentencing judgment). Thus, the magistrate judge did not err
in concluding that Petitioner must bring his claims in a
civil rights action.
challenges against the BOP are also subject to dismissal
because the BOP is not a proper respondent in a habeas
proceeding under § 2241. See Benningfield v.
Snyder-Norris, No. 15-CV-115-HRW, 2016 WL 1271027, at *1
n.1 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 29, 2016); Reyes-Morales v.
Wells, 766 F.Supp.2d 1349, 1354 (S.D. Ga. 2011).
Instead, the individual having immediate custody of the
petitioner-usually the warden a the facility where the
petitioner is housed-is the only proper respondent.
Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 435, 124 S.Ct.
2711, 2718 (2004).
Petitioner's claims would likely fail in any event.
First, Petitioner has no right to be housed in any particular
facility. The Supreme Court repeatedly has held that a
prisoner has no constitutional right to be incarcerated in a
particular facility or to be held in a specific security
classification. See Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S.
238, 245, 103 S.Ct. 1741, 1745 (1983); Moody v.
Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9, 97 S.Ct. 274, 279 n.9
(1976); Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 228-29, 96
S.Ct. 2532, 2540 (1976). The Sixth Circuit has followed the
Supreme Court's rulings in a variety of security
classification challenges. See, e.g., Harris v.
Truesdell, 79 F. App'x 756, 759 (6th Cir. 2003)
(holding that prisoner had no constitutional right to be held
in a particular prison or security classification);
Carter v. Tucker, 69 F. App'x 678, 680 (6th Cir.
2003) (same); O'Quinn v. Brown, No. 92-2183,
1993 WL 80292, at *1 (6th Cir. Mar. 22, 1993) (prisoner
failed to state a due process or equal protection claim
regarding his label as a “homosexual predator”
because he did not have a constitutional right to a
particular security level or place of confinement).
Petitioner's due process claim against the BOP would
likely fail. “[I]t is well established that the
requirements of Due Process are defined by the United States
Constitution, not by an agency's internal
regulations.” Harris v. Rios, No.
7:08-CV-32-KKC, 2009 WL 1458205, at *6 (E.D. Ky. May 26,
2009) (citing Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 485,
115 S.Ct. 2293, 2301 (1995)). Thus, a prison's failure to
comply with its own internal regulations generally does not
give rise to a due process violation under the Constitution.
See McKoy v. Fox, 1:09-CV-892, 2012 WL 6765590, at
*6 (E.D. Tex. Sept. 18, 2012). Courts have recognized that
the BOP's program statements do not confer any
substantive rights on federal inmates. See
Benningfield, 2016 WL 1271027, at *3 (observing that the
petitioner would likely fail on a due process claim based on
the BOP's failure to follow its program statement and
other internal policies with regard to the petitioner's
security classification); Robles v. English, No.
5:13cv6/MCR/EMT, 2013 WL 3797594, at *5 (N.D. Fla. July 19,
2013) (holding that alleged violations of BOP Program
Statements and federal regulations did not provide a basis
for habeas relief).
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Magistrate Judge Greeley's
September 30, 2016 Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 2) is
ADOPTED as the opinion of the Court, and Petitioner's
Objection (ECF No. 3) is OVERRULED.
FURTHER ORDERED that Petitioner's petition under 28
U.S.C. § 2241 is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE to
Petitioner's right to ...