Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Minnesota District Court Directs BOP to Reconsider Prisoner’s Denial of Halfway House Placement

By Derek Gilna

In a pre-"Second Chance Act" case, Judge Davis of the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, has granted prisoner Steven Allen Knish's § 2241 Petition, his motion to alter or amend his judgment, and ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to "promptly and in good faith reconsider Petitioner for Community Corrections Center (CCC) placement consistent with the policy in place prior to December 2002."

Plaintiff's projected release date was April 9, 2005, and in early February of 2004 he was advised by prison staff that they intended to recommend him for CCC placement on February 6, 2005. Petitioner disagreed with the decision to assign him to a halfway house for only the last ten percent of his sentence, arguing that the BOP had a longstanding policy of placing federal prisoners in halfway houses prior to the last ten percent of their sentence. According to 18 U.S. § 3621(b), the BOP has discretion to designate a prisoner or transfer a prisoner whenever it deems it appropriate. In 2002, the Attorney General issued a memorandum that announced that the BOP would no longer transfer (prisoners) to pre-release community confinement for any longer than a reasonable portion of the last ten percent of their sentences.

The petitioner relied upon the 2004 decision in the Eighth Circuit of Elwood v. Jeter, 386 F.3d. 842 (8th Cir.2004), which held the Attorney General's opinion to be erroneous. Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides a manner in which to "correct manifest errors of law or fact..." according to the court in its decision. The court also excused the prisoner's failure to exhaust all administrative remedies, stating to do so would be "futile," according to Houghton v. Shafer, 392 U.S. 639 (1968).

The court found that the Eighth Circuit had already decided that Section 3621(b) previously clarified that CCC's are acceptable places of imprisonment and allows the BOP to place prisoners in CCC's at any time during their sentences. The court clarified that "the appropriate relief is not to direct the BOP to consider his transfer to a CCC, but instead to direct the BOP to consider his transfer to a CCC, utilizing the factors that
it considered prior to the (erroneous) December 2002 memorandum from the Attorney General." See: Knish v. Stine, CRIM.04-2795 MJD/JGL, U.S. District Court, D. Minnesota, (2004)

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Knish v. Stine