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Jennings v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

September 25, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman United States District Judge


This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed herein, the Court will grant the former and deny the latter.


Plaintiff submits his pleading on a preprinted form and attaches to it a typewritten statement and hundreds of pages of unnumbered exhibits which appear to have been assembled in no particular order. The Court has waded through this pleading and its attachments (which together it will refer to as the complaint) and discerns claims for injunctive relief and monetary damages under the Privacy Act, see 5 U.S.C. § 552a, against the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") arising from its alleged willful and intentional failure to maintain accurate, timely and complete records pertaining to plaintiff.*fn1 Specifically, plaintiff challenges his security and custody classification point scores and the accuracy of the information on which they are based. See generally Compl. The BOP's reliance on such inaccurate information, plaintiff alleges, has made him ineligible for higher paying work assignments while in prison, see id. at 9, 13 (page numbers designated by the Court), has prevented him from accruing the maximum amount of good time credit allowed, see id. at 10, and has resulted in his designation to a penitentiary rather than to a lower security level facility, see id. at 10, 11, 13. For these alleged violations of his rights under the Privacy Act, plaintiff seeks an award of $250 million in damages. See id. at 18 (Relief).*fn2

A. Inmate Central File

An Inmate Central File contains, among other things, an inmate's presentence investigation report ("PSI"), his custody classification form, and his security designation form.

See Program Statement 5800.11, Inmate Central File, Privacy Folder, and Parole Mini-Files (12/31/1997) ("P.S. 5800.11") ¶¶ 8-9. "Custody classification is "[t]he review process to assign a custody level based on an inmate's criminal history, instant offense, and institutional adjustment." Program Statement 5100.08, Inmate Security Designation and Custody Classification (9/12/2006) ("P.S. 5100.08") , ch. 2, p. 2; see id., ch. 6, p. 1.

"A custody level (i.e., COMMUNITY, OUT, IN, and MAXIMUM) dictates the degree of staff supervision required for an individual inmate." P.S. 5100.08, ch. 2, p. 2. The term "security level" describes: the structural variables and inmate-to-staff ratio provided at the various types of [BOP] institutions . . . [and] identifies the institution type required to house inmates based on their histories, institutional adjustment, and Public Safety Factors as well as the physical security of the institution to include mobile patrols, gun towers, perimeter barriers, housing, detection devices, inmate-to-staff ratio, and internal security.

Id., ch. 2, p. 5. "[BOP] institutions are classified into one of five security levels: MINIMUM, LOW, MEDIUM, HIGH, and ADMINISTRATIVE based on the level of security and staff supervision the institution is able to provide." Id., ch. 1, p. 1 (bold type in original). Both security designation and custody classification take into account the severity of an inmate's current offense, history of violence, history of escape, and education level, among other factors. See generally P.S. 5100.08, ch. 4, 6.

B. Severity of Current Offense

"On March 20, 2003, . . . Troy Jennings [and a co-defendant] were convicted, after a jury trial, of various robbery, conspiracy, and weapons charges that arose out of their participation in a string of robberies at several post offices and a laundromat." United States v. Angelo, 87 Fed. Appx. 205 (2d Cir. 2004). Plaintiff was sentenced to a term of 110 months' incarceration, see Compl., Ex. (excerpt from Judgment in a Criminal Case, Case No. 02-CR-743), and initially was designated to the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in September 2003. See Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Defective Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.' Opp'n"), Ex. A (Public Information Inmate Data as of 11-14-2008) at 1. He currently is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. He is considered a high security inmate. See Pl.'s Reply to Mot. to be Dismissed for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted ("Pl.'s Opp'n"), Ex. (Male Custody Classification Form dated 11-08-2008); Defs.' Opp'n, Ex. B ("Zerr Decl.") ¶ 16.

For purposes of classification, "the current offense is the most severe documented instant offense behavior regardless of the conviction offense." P.S. 5100.08, ch. 2, p. 2 (emphasis added). If an inmate has been convicted of multiple offenses, "the highest score will be used in scoring the current offense." Id., ch. 4, p. 7; see id., ch. 6, p. 3. Assault (serious bodily injury intended), kidnaping (abduction or lawful restraint) and weapons (brandishing or threatening use of a weapon) fall into the "greatest severity" category and are scored seven points. Id., App. A (Offense Severity Scale), p. 1.

Plaintiff alleges that he "was never convicted or arrested or indicted for taking hostages," and the BOP's assessment of points for such behavior "raised [his] custody security classification point level, Compl. at 10, resulting in his designation to a penitentiary. Plaintiff's "instant offense conduct is described in the PSI and noted on his security designation data form as involving a gun and hostages." Zerr Decl. ΒΆ 12. BOP staff score a ...

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