Abbott v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 10-27-2014
  • Case #: 12-35801
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Circuit Judges Christen and Wardlaw
  • Full Text Opinion

Montana unlawful restraint elements are not equivalent to kidnapping and the conflation of the two is arbitrary and capricious.

In 2011, the respondent for this case, the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) denied the petitioner, Shane Abbott into their Residential Drug Abuse Program (“RDAP”). The denial was based off of a recent ruling that precluded prisoners from entering into the RDAP if the prisoner had an outstanding warrant. Abbott filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus which sought to compel the BOP to allow him to participate in the program. The district court denied the writ and Abbott appealed. During his appeal, the BOP changed its regulations and Abbott was eligible to participate in the RDAP. The BOP still determined that Abbott was still not eligible to the early release incentive that the program provided because of a prior unlawful restraint conviction in Montana. The BOP found that the unlawful restraint conviction was the equivalent to kidnapping, which was precluded for early release. The appeal was remanded back to district court, which found that it lacked jurisdiction to review Abbott’s denial challenge. Abbott again appealed, bringing his initial claim as well as claims that contends “1) the district court erred in holding that it lacked jurisdiction; and 2) that the BOP’s [kidnapping interpretation] was arbitrary and capricious.” The panel determined that Abbott’s claim regarding his denial into the RDAP was moot because he has “received all the relief brought in his original petition” because he lives in a halfway house and received the treatment he sought in his initial petition. Next, the panel held that the District Court erred in determining it lacked jurisdiction. The panel next turned to the kidnapping claim. The panel determined that Montana’s unlawful restraint elements are not equivalent to kidnapping and the conflation of the two is arbitrary and capricious. Although Abbott has already been released the case was remanded to the District Court to determine whether a supervised release is appropriate in light of the BOP’s prior unlawful denial of Abbott’s eligibility for sentence reduction. DISMISSED, REVERSED AND REMANDED with instructions.

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