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Prisoner Cannot Sue BOP Under Privacy Act

Gabriel Scaff-Martinez, a federal prisoner, filed suit against the United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP) pursuant to the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a(d), (e)(5) and (g), alleging that the BOP had failed to maintain accurate records, expunge false information from his prison file and amend the inaccuracy in his file, resulting in an ?adverse determination? and transfer to a higher-security prison. The district court found that ? even if the BOP?s actions were intentional ? the BOP was exempt from the provisions of the Privacy Act. The case was dismissed and an appeal followed.

In an unpublished opinion dated December 29, 2005, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that prisoners? records have been specifically excluded from the provisions of the Privacy Act pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 16.97(a), (b)(3),(j) and(k)(2). Thus, Scaff-Martinez had no cause of action upon which relief could be granted.

Likewise, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not violate the ex post facto clause by applying an amended version of the Privacy Act, and that Scaff-Martinez could not sue BOP officials for alleged violations of his due process rights because he did not name individual officials as defendants in his complaint and a Bivins action may only be maintained against federal officers individually, not against federal agencies.

Therefore, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Scaff-Martinez?s suit. See: Scaff-Martinez v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 160 Fed.Appx. 955 (11th Cir. 2005) (unpublished).

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Related legal case

Scaff-Martinez v. Federal Bureau of Prisons