United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
HECTOR OSCAR MOLINA BOP Register No. 49473-177, Petitioner,
M. UNDERWOOD, Warden, Respondent.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Hector Oscar Molina, a federal prisoner, in custody at
Volunteers of America - Hutchins at the time he initiated
this action, filed a pro se petition for writ of
habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, requesting that
the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) “immediately
recalculate [his] sentence in accordance with the First Step
Act's amendment of the Good-Time Provision.” Dkt.
No. 3 at 8. This resulting action has been referred to the
undersigned United States magistrate judge for pretrial
management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order
of reference from United States District Judge Ed Kinkeade.
The undersigned enters these findings of fact, conclusions of
law, and recommendation that the Court should summarily
dismiss the habeas petition.
Background, Legal Standards, and Analysis
courts are authorized, under 28 U.S.C. § 2243, to
dispose of habeas corpus matters ‘as law and justice
require, '” Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S.
770, 775 (1987). This statute “authorizes a district
court to summarily dismiss a frivolous habeas-corpus petition
prior to any answer or other pleading by the government,
” Gatte v. Upton, No. 4:14-cv-376-Y, 2014 WL
2700656, at *1 (N.D. Tex. June 13, 2014) (footnote omitted).
And, under the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts - equally applicable “to
§ 2241 habeas cases, ” Romero v. Cole,
No. 1:16-cv-148, 2016 WL 2893709, at *2 & n.4 (W.D. La.
Apr. 13, 2016) (collecting authority, including Castillo
v. Pratt, 162 F.Supp.2d 575, 576 (N.D. Tex. 2001)),
rec. accepted, 2016 WL 2844013 (W.D. La. May 12,
2016) - “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and
any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to
relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the
petition, ” Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases
in the United States District Courts.
was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; in November 2018, he was
sentenced to 40 months of imprisonment; and, at the time of
his sentencing, the Court ordered that Molina “receive
credit for time in federal custody from June 21, 2016.”
United States v. Molina, No. 3:15-cr-163-K (01)
(N.D. Tex.), Dkt. No. 274. BOP records available online
reflect that his current projected release date is May 28,
basis for Molina's request for relief appears to be that
“[t]he First Step Act, enacted December 21, 2018,
amended 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1) to change the manner in
which good time credits are calculated by increasing the
maximum allowable days from 47 to 54 per year.”
Schmutzler v. Quintana, Civ. A. No. 5:19-046-DCR,
2019 WL 727794, at *1 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 20, 2019). While
Section 102(b)(1) of the First Step Act of 2018, Public Law
115-391, amended 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b) to permit federal
inmates to earn 54 days of good conduct time for each year of
the sentence imposed, effectively abrogating Barber v.
Thomas, 560 U.S. 474 (2010)[, ] this provision has not
yet taken effect: Section 102(b)(2) of the Act specifically
provides that the amendments made in subsection 102(b) of the
Act take effect only when the Attorney General completes the
“risk and needs assessment system” required by
Section 101(a) of the Act. Section 101(a) does not require
completion of the system until 210 days after the Act's
enactment. Thus, Section 102(b)(1) will not take effect until
approximately July 2019.
Id. at *2 (denying similar Section 2241 petition in
part on this basis).
the relief that Molina seeks under the First Step Act has not
yet taken effect, it plainly appears that he is not entitled
to relief pursuant to his habeas petition. Cf. In re U.S.
Bureau of Prisons, Dep't of Justice, __ F.3d__, No.
18-50512, 2019 WL 1198107, at *4 (5th Cir. Mar. 14, 2019)
(“Confusion sometimes arises ... when a defendant
requests that the district court award credit for time served
[prior to the date his federal sentence commences] and the
court purports to grant or deny this request at sentencing.
Because the district court lacks the authority to award or
deny credit, the BOP is not bound by its decision. The
sentencing court does ‘retain residual authority'
to consider a defendant's time in custody. If the court
determines that the BOP will not credit a defendant's
prior time served, the court can reduce the defendant's
sentence under § 5G1.3(b) or § 5K2.23 of the U.S.
Sentencing Guidelines. But the district court must calculate
the defendant's final sentence itself; it cannot simply
order the BOP to award credit.” (citations omitted)).
the extent that Molina asserts equal protection and due
process claims, see Dkt. No. 3 at 6,
[t]he law is clear that inmates are not a suspect class. As
to the question of fundamental rights, the good time credit
statute merely authorizes the BOP to offer prisoners the
benefit of a reduced sentence in exchange for good behavior.
See 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b). It therefore does not
implicate any fundamental right implicitly or explicitly
guaranteed by the Constitution. The BOP's policy of
calculating good time credits is therefore subject only to
rational basis review.
Perez v. Zenk, No. 04-CV-5069 (CBA), 2005 WL 990696,
at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 11, 2005) (citation omitted); cf.
Handley v. Chapman, 587 F.3d 273, 281 (5th Cir. 2009)
(“‘The Due Process Clause does not itself confer
a liberty interest in a sentence reduction for completion of
an RDAP.' In granting eligibility for early release, the
BOP has broad discretion that precludes the possibility of a
liberty interest in early release under § 3621. Without
a liberty interest, there is no procedural due process
claim.” (citing Richardson v. Joslin, 501 F.3d
415, 418-20 (5th Cir. 2007); footnote omitted)).
Court should summarily dismiss Petitioner Hector Oscar
Molina's petition for writ of habeas ...