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Knighten v. United States Parole Commission

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 20, 2015

Lester Knighten, Petitioner,
v.
United States Parole Commission, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Lester Knighten's "Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Mandamus or Similar Relief Based on the United States Parole Commission's Refusal to Terminate Supervision Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. [§] 4211(c)(1) and 28 C.F.R. [§] 2.43(c), " which is construed as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.[1] For the reasons discussed below, the petition will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner, formerly enlisted in the United States Navy, was convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice ("UCMJ") by a general court-martial of disobeying a lawful order of his commanding officer, and of rape, sodomy, and indecent acts upon the body of his 12-year old step-daughter. See Federal Respondents' Opposition to Petitioner's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 39 ("Fed. Opp'n"), Exs. B & B-1 (respectively, General Court-Martial Order 1-97 and Naval Clemency and Parole Board Summary). On February14, 1997, he was sentenced to a 20-year term of confinement. Id., Ex. B at 2. Initially petitioner was confined at the United States Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. See id. at 2. He was transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") on August 2, 2002.[2] Id., Ex. A (Sentence Monitoring Computation Data as of 06-14-2006) at 1. "Through good conduct and successful program participation, [he] earned a transfer to the low security federal facility in Beaumont, Texas." Petitioner's Response to the R[e]spondent's Answer Opposing Petitioner's Writ of Mandamus/Writ of Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 42 ("Pet'r's Reply") at 3 (page numbers designated by ECF). The United States Parole Commission ("USPC") released petitioner on parole from the Beaumont facility on December 4, 2006, and he is to remain under parole supervision through December 4, 2016. Pet'r's Reply at 3; Fed. Opp'n, Ex. E (Certificate of Parole) at 1.

Supervision reports from December 2006 through 2010 reflected petitioner's satisfactory adjustment to supervision. Fed. Opp'n, Exs. G-H (respectively, Supervision Reports covering period from December 4, 2006 through December 4, 2008, and period from December 4, 2008 through April 6, 2010). On June 9, 2010, the USPC conducted a parole termination hearing. See generally id., Ex. J (Termination Hearing Summary). The hearing examiner stated:

The subject's completion [of a] Sex Offender Treatment Program [and] his interaction with his two biological daughters 18 and 19 years of age who live in Maryland and his stepdaughter who is 22 or 23 [who] lives at [the] home [he] and his wife have bought... demonstrate[] that he is on the appropriate path. This examiner does not believe that there is a likelihood the subject will commit another criminal act or a safety issue if he is terminated from supervision.... [T]his examiner believes our subject is ready for release on 12/4/2011.

Id., Ex. J at 2. The USPC disagreed, however, noting "that the instability of [petitioner's] employment record indicates an increased likelihood that [he] will engage in criminal behavior and that continued supervision [was] necessary to monitor [his] compliance." Id., Ex. L (Notice of Action dated September 2, 2011). Petitioner's appeal to the National Appeals Board was unsuccessful. See Fed. Opp'n, Ex. M (Notice of Action on Appeal dated December 12, 2011).

Subsequently, on the realization that it lacked authority to terminate parole supervision of a person sentenced under the UCMJ, the USPC referred to the Naval Clemency and Parole Board ("NC&PB") a supervision report for the period from April 6, 2010 through May 1, 2012, and a motion for early termination of parole supervision submitted by petitioner's counsel. See id., Exs. O-P (respectively, Letter to USPC from John F. Murphy, Federal Defender Program. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, dated May 15, 2012 with attachments, and Letter to Michael Pentangelo, Supervision Officer, Northern District of Illinois, from Corey D. Mitchell, Case Analyst, USPC, dated June 19, 2012).

Petitioner submitted to the NC&PB requests for clemency in July 2012 and September 2013. Id., Exs. Q & T (respectively, NC&PB Parolee Clemency Request Statements dated July 27, 2012 and September 19, 2013). Notwithstanding petitioner's "satisfactory adjustment to supervision, " stable employment and completion of sex offender treatment in 2010, id., Ex. R (Naval Clemency and Parole Board Supervision Report dated April 7, 2012) at 2, early termination of parole was not recommended due to United States Probation Office policy with respect to sex offenses, id., Ex. R at 1; see id., Exs. U & W (respectively, Naval Clemency and Parole Board Supervision Reports dated September 24, 2013 and January 15, 2014). His parole officer stated:

The first 2-3 years of his period of supervision were somewhat contentious in that he had... a difficult time transitioning to his status as a sex offender and accepting/dealing with the shame that he experienced as a result. This did not translate into specific noncompliance per say [sic], but rather manifested more specifically in his ability to emotionally adjust. It took him some time to obtain legitimate employment. He seemed to want to avoid certain interactions that would require him to face the fact that he is a convicted sex offender and with that[] comes a very negative stigma. He worked on this issue in treatment and came to a broader resolution and acceptance that appears to have allowed him to move forward in accepting responsibility for what this label brings and how he must manage it accordingly. He has been employed steadily..., is a home owner, and appears to remain somewhat active in his community partaking in church sponsored events. He seems to have a stable relationship with his wife.... Although his adjustment to supervision has been without obvious issue for the past 3 years or so, my office restricts me from making a recommendation for early termination based solely on his offense, notwithstanding the notion that he remains compliant with supervision... and appears to be... cooperating with the legal restrictions set forth in his judgment. His adjustment to supervision is satisfactory.

Id., Ex. U (email to Randall R. Lamoureaux, President, NC&PB, from Michael Pentangelo dated October 15, 2013).

Petitioner brings this action against both the USPC and the NC&PB asking that his parole supervision be terminated. See Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Mandamus or Similar Relief Based on the United States Parole Commission's Refusal to Terminate Supervision Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. [§] 4211(c)(1) and 28 C.F.R. [§] 2.43(c), ECF No. 1 ("Pet.") at 1, 10-11 (page numbers designated by ECF).

II. DISCUSSION

A. United States Parole Commission


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