50 F.3d 884 (11th Cir. 1995), 93-6240, Dawson v. Scott

Docket Nº:93-6240.
Citation:50 F.3d 884
Party Name:John F. DAWSON, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Roger SCOTT, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:April 06, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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50 F.3d 884 (11th Cir. 1995)

John F. DAWSON, Petitioner-Appellant,


Roger SCOTT, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 93-6240.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

April 6, 1995

Page 885

John F. Dawson, Birmingham, AL, Jeff P. Manciagli (Court-appointed), Atlanta, GA, for appellant.

Jack W. Selden, U.S. Atty., Winfield J. Sinclair, Asst. U.S. Atty., Birmingham, AL, Joseph Douglas Wilson, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Criminal Div., Washington, DC, for appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Before ANDERSON and BIRCH, Circuit Judges, and CONWAY [*], District Judge.

BIRCH, Circuit Judge:

This habeas case presents the first-impression issue for our circuit of whether sentence credit is applicable for time spent in a halfway or safe house as a condition of release on bond before adjudication of guilt or sentencing, or after sentencing prior to surrender to the custody of the Attorney General. The district court determined that denial of sentence credit for this time was the proper statutory and constitutional interpretation. We AFFIRM.


On May 1, 1990, petitioner-appellant John F. Dawson was arrested by New Mexico federal agents for cocaine distribution. When Dawson was arrested, the government filed a forfeiture action against his residence and seized it. Following a detention hearing on May 3, 1990, Dawson was released on a personal recognizance bond. That same day, however, the bond was revoked upon a finding that Dawson was ineligible for bond because he had no home to which he could be released. Dawson was returned to custody. On May 4, 1990, Dawson was released on bond with the condition that he be placed in La Posada Halfway House in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Dawson resided at this halfway house for 104 days. During his time there, it is undisputed that he was subjected to the same conditions as other residents, including convicts serving their sentences there. While these conditions, such as random urinanalysis samples, searches of person and property, and no alcohol, sexual activity, or entry into other resident rooms, were mandatory, residents were confined to the premises of the halfway house from 7:00 P.M. until 7:00 A.M. only. During the daytime, they were either working in outside employment or seeking employment.

Dawson pled guilty to one count of violating 21 U.S.C. Secs. 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) on August 15, 1990. Because of safety concerns resulting from Dawson's agreement to cooperate with the government, the court amended Dawson's presentence condition of release and transferred him from the halfway house to a "safe house." 1 Dawson remained in the

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safe house for 384 days, including time after he was sentenced and prior to his required surrender to the custody of the Attorney General.

On December 11, 1990, Dawson was sentenced to forty-one months in the custody of the Attorney General and three years of supervised release. Initially, Dawson was to surrender voluntarily on January 15, 1991. His surrender date subsequently was extended until September 4, 1991, to permit Dawson to continue assisting the government. Consequently, the government recommended a downward departure in Dawson's sentence. Dawson did not file a direct appeal. In September, 1991, Dawson began to serve his term of incarceration, and the district court reduced his sentence to twenty-four months. Although he initially surrendered to the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") at the Federal Prison Camp ("FPC"), El Paso, Texas, the BOP transferred Dawson to FPC, Talladega, Alabama.

The BOP credited Dawson for the days that he was imprisoned prior to his release to the halfway house before his plea. After exhausting his BOP administrative remedies, Dawson filed a pro se habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2241 in the Northern District of Alabama on May 20, 1992. He sought credit against his sentence for the time that he spent in halfway and safe houses, totaling 488 days. Dawson argued that this time constituted "official detention", within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3585(b), that should be credited against his sentence.

A magistrate judge recommended that his petition be denied, and the district court adopted that recommendation. This appeal ensued. Dawson has completed his term of incarceration; he currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama, and is serving his period of supervised release. 2


  1. Statutory Interpretation

    "The judiciary is the final authority on issues of statutory construction," Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. National Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 843 n. 9, 104 S.Ct. 2778, 2781 n. 9, 81 L.Ed.2d 694 (1984); "[w]e review a district court's interpretation and application of a statute de novo," F.D.I.C. v. S & I 85-1, Ltd., 22 F.3d 1070, 1071 (11th Cir.1994). See James v. United States, 19 F.3d 1, 2 (11th Cir.1994) (per curiam) (holding that whether a statute affects sentencing is a "question of law subject to de novo review"). To interpret a statute administered by an agency, the Chevron court established "a two-step process." Jaramillo v. I.N.S., 1 F.3d 1149, 1152 (11th Cir.1993) (en banc). First, if congressional purpose is clear, then interpreting courts and administrative agencies "must give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress." Chevron, 467 U.S. at 842-43, 104 S.Ct. at 2781.

    A second level of review, however, is triggered when "the statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to the specific issue." Id. at 843, 104 S.Ct. at 2782. Where an administrating agency has interpreted the statute, a reviewing court is bound by the Chevron

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    "rule of deference." Jaramillo, 1 F.3d at 1152. "[A] court may not substitute its own construction of a statutory provision for a reasonable interpretation" by an administrating agency. Chevron, 467 U.S. at 844, 104 S.Ct. at 2782. Agency interpretation is reasonable and controlling unless it is "arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute." Id.; Alabama Power Co. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Comm'n, 22 F.3d 270, 272 (11th Cir.1994). Thus, "we defer to an agency's reasonable interpretation of a statute it is charged with administering." Bigby v. United States I.N.S., 21 F.3d 1059, 1063 (11th Cir.1994). This direction governs our analysis of this case.

    Dawson argues that the 488 cumulative days that he spent in a halfway house and a safe house were "official detention" under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3585(b), and that this time should be credited against his subsequent sentence. Section 3585(b) provides:

    Credit for prior custody. A defendant shall be given credit toward the service of a term of imprisonment for any time he has spent in official detention prior to the date the sentence commences--

    (1) as a result of the offense for which the sentence was imposed; or

    (2) as a result of any other charge for which the defendant was arrested after the commission of the offense for which the sentence was imposed;

    that has not been credited against another sentence.

    18 U.S.C. Sec. 3585(b) (emphasis added). Thus, we must determine the statutory meaning of "official detention" in section 3585(b) to decide whether Dawson is entitled to sentence credit for the time that he spent in halfway and safe houses.

    The predecessor statute to section 3585(b) provided that "[t]he Attorney General shall give any ... person credit toward service of his sentence for any days spent in custody in connection with the offense or acts for which sentence was imposed." 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3568 3 (emphasis added). Although the language differs in section 3568 and present section 3585(b), the majority of circuits that have considered the issue have determined that "the term 'custody' under Sec. 3568 has the same meaning as the phrase 'official detention' under Sec. 3585." 4 Moreland v. United States, 968 F.2d 655, 658 n. 6 (8th Cir.) (en banc) (plurality opinion), 5 cert. denied, ---

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    U.S. ----, 113 S.Ct. 675, 121 L.Ed.2d 598 (1992); accord Koray v. Sizer, 21 F.3d 558, 563 (3d Cir.1994), cert. granted, --- U.S. ----, 115 S.Ct. 787, 130 L.Ed.2d 779 (1995); Mills v. Taylor, 967 F.2d 1397, 1400 (9th Cir.1992); United States v. Edwards, 960 F.2d 278, 283 (2d Cir.1992); Pinedo v. United States, 955 F.2d 12, 13-14 (5th Cir.1992) (per curiam); United States v. Becak, 954 F.2d 386, 387-88 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 112 S.Ct. 2286, 119 L.Ed.2d 211 (1992); United States v. Insley, 927 F.2d 185, 186 (4th Cir.1991); United States v. Woods, 888 F.2d 653, 655 (10th Cir.1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1006, 110 S.Ct. 1301, 108 L.Ed.2d 478 (1990); see United States v. Zackular, 945 F.2d 423, 424-25 (1st Cir.1991) (limiting holding to the determination that home confinement was not "official detention," while noting that most circuits have determined that "official detention" is comparable to "custody").

    Interpreting section 3568, the Former Fifth Circuit held that "custody" is "characterized by incarceration," and that credit against a federal sentence does not accrue "until the prisoner is received at the place of imprisonment." 6 Polakoff v. United States, 489 F.2d 727, 730 (5th Cir.1974). The Former Fifth Circuit also determined that a presentence convict's time on a "highly restricted bond" was not "custody" under section 3568 because it was not incarceration. Id. at 728, 730; see United States v. Mares, 868 F.2d 151, 152 (5th Cir.1989) (per curiam) (construing section 3568, the Fifth Circuit specifically excluded pretrial release on bail, time spent on bail pending appeal, and time spent on parole or probation, if revoked, from the definition of "custody"). This interpretation is augmented by the Ninth Circuit's conclusion that a pretrial defendant who...

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