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United States v. Buckner

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE EDWARD BUCKNER, Defendant.

          Mona K. Majzoub, Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A JUDICIAL RECOMMENDATION UNDER THE SECOND CHANCE ACT [ECF No. 51]

          Victoria A. Roberts, United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         At issue is whether this Court should recommend to the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) that Defendant Lawrence Buckner be allowed to serve the final nine to twelve months of his federal sentence in a residential reentry center (“RRC”). Because the Court's authority to issue such a recommendation is unclear, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In 2013, Buckner was sentenced to 120 months imprisonment for possession of a stolen firearm. Buckner was sentenced pursuant to a Rule 11 plea agreement; he was originally charged with being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), Distribution of a Controlled Substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Buckner is scheduled to be released from prison on January 11, 2021.

         Buckner says that he has maintained a positive disciplinary record while in prison and has completed all “core programmatic needs programming.” He also maintains that he has completed “an extensive number of Educational, Adult Continuing Educational, Therapy, VA Related, Mental Health and Recreational Programming, both as a participant and a facilitator.” [ECF No. 51, PageID.262]. Finally, Buckner will be 41 years of age at release and says he will be “without job prospects, residence, or support, and will require an extended period to secure such community and transitional needs prior to sentence expiration.” [ECF No. 51, PageID.262].

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A federal defendant who has been convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment is committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(a). The BOP “is directed to transfer prisoners to a residential reentry center as they approach the end of their sentences, in an effort to better prepare the inmates for reentry into the community.” See 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c). The Second Chance Act “increased the maximum time available for pre-release RRC placement from six months to twelve months.” See 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(1). Specifically, Section 3624(c) of the Second Chance Act states:

The Director of the Bureau of Prisons shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that a prisoner serving a term of imprisonment spends a portion of the final months of that term (not to exceed 12 months), under conditions that will afford that prisoner a reasonable opportunity to adjust and prepare for the reentry of that prisoner into the community. Such conditions may include a community correctional facility.

18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(1).

         In accordance with the statute, the BOP “is required to conduct an individualized assessment of each inmate to determine when the inmate should be placed in a residential reentry center, ensuring that the inmate's time in a residential reentry center is ‘of sufficient duration to provide the greatest likelihood of successful integration into the community.'” In making its assessment, the BOP considers, among other factors: “(4) any statement by the court that imposed the sentence-(A) concerning the purposes for which the sentence to imprisonment was determined to be warranted; or (B) recommending a type of penal or correctional facility as appropriate.” See 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(1).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Buckner says the Court should recommend to the BOP that he spend the final nine to twelve months of his sentence in an RRC; he says that the Second Chance Act gives district courts the authority to make non-binding recommendations to the BOP on prisoner reentry placement. The Government says that district courts do not have the authority to issue post-sentencing recommendations to the BOP; in the ...


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