Myers v. FCI Ashland, Civil Action 22-34-DLB

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
Writing for the CourtDavid L. Bunning, United States District Judge
Docket NumberCivil Action 22-34-DLB
Decision Date09 December 2022




Civil Action No. 22-34-DLB

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

December 9, 2022


David L. Bunning, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Reginald Myers is a federal inmate currently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”)-Ashland located in Ashland, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Myers has filed a civil complaint against Defendants FCI-Ashland, Warden LeMaster, and Case Manager Coordinator Issacs pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). (Doc. #1). By prior Order, the Court granted Myers's motion to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (Doc. #9). Thus, the Court must conduct a preliminary review of Myers's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A.

Upon initial screening, the Court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is obviously immune from such relief. See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-08 (6th Cir. 1997). A complaint must set forth claims in a clear and concise manner, and must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,


556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470 (6th Cir. 2010). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. The Court evaluates Myers's complaint under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). At this stage, the Court accepts the plaintiff's factual allegations as true, and his legal claims are liberally construed in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

In his complaint, Myers alleges that he was told that he was not eligible for release to home confinement under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (“CARES Act”)[1] because of his prior convictions, at least one of which was classified by prison staff as a violent felony conviction. (Doc. #1 at p. 2). However, he alleges that he later discovered that Issacs and LeMaster were allowing white inmates who had prior violent convictions “to receive or be eligible for this program.” (Id. at p. 3). According to Myers, “this is clearly discrimination based on race and favoritism based on race along with preferences based on race” because no similar exceptions were made for Black inmates with past or present violent convictions. (Id.). Based on these allegations, Myers brings claims for violations of his rights to due process and equal protection, implicating the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id. at p. 5).[2] As


relief, he requests that the Court find “FCI-Ashland guilty of discrimination based on race” and that Myers be released to home confinement. (Id. at p. 9). Myers also seeks $10 million in monetary relief for “pain and suffering.” (Id.).

However, Myers's complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted. First, to the extent that Myers seeks earlier or immediate release from physical custody, such relief must be sought in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, not in a civil complaint filed pursuant to Bivens. See Terrell v. United States, 564 F.3d 442, 446 (6th Cir. 2009) (recognizing a long line of Supreme Court precedent holding that “a challenge.. .of a prisoner's underlying conviction or sentence, that necessarily demonstrated the invalidity of the confinement's legality...can only be brought under habeas.”) (citing Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, (1997), and Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74 (2005)). See also Muhammed v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004) (“Challenges to the validity of any confinement or to particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus.”). Thus, Myers may not seek earlier release to home confinement as a remedy in a civil complaint.

Turning to Myers's request for monetary relief for his due process and equal protection claims, such claims are brought pursuant to Bivens, which held that an individual may “recover money damages for any injuries...suffered as a result of [federal] agents' violation of” his constitutional rights. Bivens 403 U.S. at 397. However, a Bivens


claim is only properly asserted against individual federal employees in their individual capacities. Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1018 (9th Cir. 1991). Thus, Myers's may not bring a Bivens claim against “FCI-Ashland,” which is, in essence, a claim against the Bureau of Prisons (a federal agency). Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 72 (2001) (“If a federal prisoner in a BOP facility alleges a constitutional deprivation, he may bring a Bivens claim against the offending individual officer, subject to the defense of qualified immunity. The prisoner may not bring a Bivens claim against the officer's employer, the United States, or the BOP.”).

Moreover, Myers's due process claim fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted, as he has no due process rights to placement on home confinement. “When a court sentences a federal offender, the BOP has plenary control, subject to statutory constraints, over ‘the place of the prisoner's imprisonment,' and the treatment programs (if any) in which he may participate.” Tapia v. United States, 564 U.S. 319, 331 (2011)(citing 18 U.S.C. §§ 3621(b), (e), (f); 3624(f); 28 C.F.R. pt. 544 (2010)). An inmate has no liberty interest in being placed in any particular penal institution, Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 247 (1983), or classified at any particular security level, Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 468 (1983), overruled in part on other grounds by Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995), and hence no rights protected by the Due Process Clause in that regard. Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484-86. See also Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005) (“...the Constitution itself does not give rise to a liberty interest in avoiding transfer to more adverse conditions of confinement.”) (citing Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976)); Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976) (“Congress has given federal prison officials full discretion to control [prisoner classification and eligibility


for rehabilitative programs in the federal system], 18 U.S.C. § 4081, and petitioner has no legitimate statutory or constitutional entitlement sufficient to invoke due process.”); Harris v. Truesdell, 79 Fed.Appx. 756, 759 (6th Cir. 2003).

In addition, while 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c) authorizes that BOP to consider placing an inmate in home confinement, a prisoner is not automatically entitled, or guaranteed, such placement for any amount of time. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c). See also Heard v. Quintana, 184 F.Supp.3d 515, 520 (E.D. Ky. 2016). See also Demis v. Sniezek, 558 F.3d 508, 514 (6th Cir. 2009); Boals v. Quintana, No. 5:15-cv-335-JMH, 2015 WL 8665404, at *2 (E.D. Ky. Dec. 11, 2015). Rather, “the decision to place an inmate in pre-release community confinement and/or home confinement is discretionary and will be ‘determined on an individual basis' according to the factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b).” Boals, 2015 WL 8665404 at *2 (citing McIntosh v. Hickey, No. 10-cv-126-JMH, 2010 WL 1959308, at *3 (E.D. Ky. May 17, 2010)). Likewise, while the CARES Act allows the Bureau of Prisons to “lengthen the maximum amount of time for which the Director is authorized to place a prisoner in home confinement,” it does not give courts the authority to grant home confinement requests. Pub. L. 116, 134 Stat. 281, 516, § 12003(b)(2). And the BOP's placement decisions, including determinations regarding home confinement, are expressly insulated from judicial review, as the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”) do not apply to such decisions. 28 U.S.C. § 3625 (“The provisions of sections 554 and 555 and 701 through 706 of title 5, United States Code, do not apply to the making of any determination, decision, or order under this subchapter.”). Cf. Woodard v. Quintana,


No. 5:15-cv-307-KKC, 2015 WL 7185478, at * 5-6 (E.D. Ky. Nov. 13, 2015). For all of these reasons, Myers's due process claim must be dismissed.

Turning to Myers's equal protection claim, this claim also fails to state a claim for which Bivens provides a remedy, as it does not fall within the three existing contexts in which the United States Supreme Court has recognized a private right of action for damages for a constitutional violation. Since Bivens was decided in 1971, the Supreme Court has found an implied damages action to be available in only three circumstances: (1) where federal officials search a private residence without...

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