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Thomas v. Craig

March 15, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David E. Peebles U.S. Magistrate Judge


Petitioner Douglas Thomas, who at the time this proceeding was commenced was an inmate confined within the Ray Brook Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI Raybrook"), and thus within this district, has commenced this proceeding seeking federal habeas intervention, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, in connection with the sentence which he is now serving.*fn1 In his petition Thomas seeks credit, for purposes of his federal sentence, for time previously served as a result of a state court drug conviction which, according to him, arose from some of the same conduct which formed the basis for the drug conspiracy charge upon which he was sentenced federally.

Having carefully considered the arguments raised by Thomas in his petition, I am unable to conclude that prison officials have improperly calculated his sentence, and therefore find that his petition should be denied.


Petitioner was convicted in a New York state court in 2001 for unlawful drug possession. That conviction grew out of an arrest on September 30, 2000 by authorities in Ulster County, New York. Following his arrest, petitioner was indicted and charged by an Ulster County grand jury with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree and, apparently based upon the subsequent entry of a guilty plea, was sentenced on February 26, 2001 principally to a 360 day period of incarceration on that charge. As a result of his entitlement to a good time allowance, petitioner was released from state custody on May 25, 2001, after having served 240 days of his state sentence.

Plaintiff was taken into federal custody on November 8, 2002, and was later indicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute, and to distribute, cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§841 and 846, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm which has traveled in interstate commerce, in contravention of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Following the entry of a guilty plea on those two counts, pursuant to a written plea agreement, and the subsequent preparation of a presentence investigation report ("PSIR"), petitioner was sentenced on April 7, 2004 principally to concurrent terms of incarceration of 120 months on the firearm possession charge, and 135 months based upon the drug conspiracy count. Following sentencing, petitioner was designated by the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") to FCI Ray Brook, where he was received on June 3, 2004.


After properly exhausting available, internal administrative remedies, petitioner commenced this proceeding on November 14, 2005.*fn2

Dkt. No. 1. Appropriately named as the respondent in Thomas' petition is T.S. Craig, the Warden at FCI Ray Brook, and thus his custodian at the time of commencement. Id. In his petition, Thomas claims that he was improperly denied credit, as against his federal sentence, for the 240 days served in connection with his Ulster County conviction which, he maintains -- and respondent does not deny -- was related to the drug conspiracy count of his federal conviction.

On January 23, 2006 the court received a response filed by the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, on behalf of respondent Craig, in opposition to Thomas' petition. Dkt. No. 5. Petitioner has since filed a reply memorandum, or "traverse". See Dkt. No. 6. The petition in this matter, which is now ripe for determination, is before me on consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). See Dkt. No. 14.


The calculation of release dates associated with federal prison sentences is a matter which falls under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General, who has in turn delegated that responsibility to the BOP. Wilson, 503 U.S. at 331-33, 112 S.Ct. at 1353-54; United States v. Pineyro, 112 F.3d 43, 45 (2d Cir. 1997); Chambers v. Holland, 920 F. Supp. 618, 621 (M.D. Pa.), aff'd, 100 F.3d 946 (3d Cir. 1996) (unpublished). For sentences rendered in and after 1987, when the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3551 et seq., became effective, sentence calculation is governed primarily by 18 U.S.C. § 3585. Chambers, 920 F.Supp. at 621.

Under section 3585, sentence calculation entails a two-step process, requiring a determination of both the proper sentence commencement date and whether any credit should be awarded for time served prior to the date of commencement. 18 U.S.C. ...

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