United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION FOR RECOMMENDATION REGARDING LENGTH
OF RRC PLACEMENT
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court grants an inmate's request that it recommend to the
Bureau of Prisons that as she nears the end of her period of
federal incarceration, she be allowed to spend from nine to
twelve months assigned to a residential reentry center with
the caveats (1) that the Court is unaware of anything in her
dealings with the Court that would significantly militate
against such a recommendation, (2) that the Court assumes the
accuracy of the Defendant's stated accomplishments while
in prison, (3) that the BOP itself has not been represented
in this motion and the Court has no information as to its
position, (4) that the BOP, not the Court, has the ultimate
authority to designate an inmate, and (5) that beyond the
individual circumstances presented here, this order reflects
this Court's generally positive view of the efficacy of
residential reentry centers in bridging the gap from a
lengthy period of incarceration to the greater freedom of
16, 2016, the Court sentenced Tiffany Sutherland to a term of
incarceration of 54 months for her part in a conspiracy to
distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine,
heroin, and 28 grams or more of cocaine base, a violation of
21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). J. (ECF No. 180). On
November 30, 2017, the Court reduced her sentence to a term
of incarceration of 51 months. Am. J. (ECF No. 198).
Tiffany Sutherland's Motion
April 23, 2018, Ms. Sutherland moved this Court to recommend
to the United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP) that she receive
nine to twelve months of Residential Reentry Center
placement. Mot. for Recommendation Regarding Length of
RRC Placement (ECF No. 200) (Def.'s Mot.).
Ms. Sutherland's motion is largely a
Sutherland states that she has a current release date of
February 19, 2019 and it is therefore vital that she be
recommended for the reentry center as soon as possible.
Id. at 2. She says that during her incarceration,
she has maintained a clean record and has consistently worked
as an orderly. Id. Conceding that the BOP has the
ultimate authority to designate her to an RRC, she also
observes that the BOP is required to consider any judicial
recommendation. Id. She notes that she graduated
from the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) on April 6,
2018 at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, but she states that she
did not get a reduced sentence from her RDAP participation
because of the gun enhancement. Id. at 4. Ms.
Sutherland represents that her Unit Team is requesting that
her halfway house date be fixed in September 2018.
Id. at 3-4.
The Government's Response
11, 2018, the Government filed a pro forma response, taking
no position on the motion. Gov't Resp. to Def.'s
Mot. for Recommendation Regarding Placement at 1 (ECF
No. 201). On May 15, 2018, the Government filed a
supplemental response. Gov't Second Resp. to
Def.'s Mot. for Recommendation Regarding Placement
(ECF No. 202) (Gov't's Second Resp.).
Government concurs with Ms. Sutherland that the BOP, not this
Court, has the authority to determine her place of
imprisonment. Gov't's Second Resp. at 2-3.
The Government observes that the pre-release designation
statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c), provides that the BOP may
exercise its discretion in assigning an inmate to prerelease
custody and that any recommendation from this Court must be
subject to the BOP's statutory discretion. Id.
at 3. The Government points to other court decisions which
have granted post-judgment motions similar to Ms.
Sutherland's. Id. at 3-4 (citing caselaw). In
the end, the Government leaves the decision as to whether to
make a recommendation to the sound discretion of the Court.
Id. at 4.
United States Supreme Court has written that Congress has
given the BOP “plenary control, subject to statutory
constraints, over ‘the place of the prisoner's
imprisonment.'” Tapia v. United States,
141 S.Ct. 2382, 2390 (2011) (quoting 18 U.S.C. §
3621(b)). Federal law permits a court to make a
recommendation to the BOP, “[b]ut decisionmaking
authority rests with the BOP.” Id. at 2390-91.
The applicable statutory provision is 18 U.S.C. §
[The BOP] shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that a
prisoner serving a term of imprisonment spends a portion of
the final months of that term (not to exceed 12 months),
under conditions that will afford that prisoner a reasonable
opportunity to adjust to and prepare for the reentry of that
prisoner into the community. Such conditions may include a
community correctional facility.
Federal law also provides that a sentencing court may make a
recommendation that a prisoner serve a term of imprisonment
in a residential reentry center. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b).