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No Good Time for Time Spent in State Custody before Imposition of Federal Sentence

Good conduct time (GCT) may not be awarded to a federal prisoner for time spent in state custody before receiving his federal sentence, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held.

Russell Schleining was arrested in 2003 for burglary and attempted burglary. At the time of his arrest, he was discovered with a firearm. He was sentenced to ten years in state prison on the burglary charges; while serving his state sentence, Schleining was indicted in federal court for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

He pleaded guilty to the firearms charge, received his federal time and was returned to state custody for completion of his state sentence. After finishing his state time, Schleining was transferred to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to begin his federal sentence.

While at FCI Sheridan, Schleining complained to the BOP that he had been improperly denied good conduct time for the time he spent in state custody before receiving his federal sentence. He eventually filed a habeas corpus petition over the matter, which was denied. Schleining appealed.

Affirming the judgment of the district court, the Ninth Circuit held that “a prisoner can receive GCT only on time served on his federal sentence, and his federal sentence does not ‘commence’ until after he has been sentenced in federal court.” As such, the appellate court concluded, “Schleining [was] not eligible for GCT credit for the 21 months he spent in state custody – serving a state sentence – before imposition of his federal sentence.” See: Schleining v. Thomas, 642 F.3d 1242 (9th Cir. 2011), cert. denied.

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Related legal case

Schleining v. Thomas