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Graham v. Broglin

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Jan 7, 1991
922 F.2d 379 (7th Cir. 1991)

Summary

holding that McCollum rule applies whenever prisoner seeks "a quantum change in the level of custody"

Summary of this case from Griffin v. Gomez

Opinion

No. 89-3201.

Submitted September 27, 1990.

Decided January 7, 1991.

Gene V. Graham, Westville, Ind., pro se.

Kimberlie A. Forgey, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, Ind., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

Before CUDAHY, POSNER, and RIPPLE, Circuit Judges.


We write to clarify the relation between an action for habeas corpus ( 28 U.S.C. § 2254) and a civil rights action ( 42 U.S.C. § 1983) as vehicles by which state prisoners can challenge their confinement on federal constitutional grounds. After violating parole, Gene Graham was returned to an Indiana state prison to complete his sentence for robbery. He applied for work release but his application was denied because of a rule of the state parole authorities to the effect that a person who is imprisoned solely because he violated parole is ineligible for work release. Graham brought this habeas corpus action to challenge the rule as a denial of equal protection of the laws. The district judge dismissed the action on the alternative grounds that habeas corpus was the wrong vehicle for Graham's claim and that the claim lacked merit.

If a prisoner seeks by his suit to shorten the term of his imprisonment, he is challenging the state's custody over him and must therefore proceed under the habeas corpus statute with its requirement of exhausting state remedies, while if he is challenging merely the conditions of his confinement his proper remedy is under civil rights law, which (with an inapplicable exception) does not require exhaustion. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973); Miller v. McCollum, 695 F.2d 1044, 1046 (7th Cir. 1983). The difficult intermediate case is where the prisoner is seeking not earlier freedom, but transfer from a more to a less restrictive form of custody. We know that if a prisoner claims to be entitled to probation or bond or parole, his proper route is habeas corpus, even though he is seeking something less than complete freedom. Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 109 S.Ct. 1923, 1925, 104 L.Ed.2d 540 (1989); Jones v. Cunningham, 371 U.S. 236, 243, 83 S.Ct. 373, 377, 9 L.Ed.2d 285 (1963); Vargas v. Swan, 854 F.2d 1028, 1030 (7th Cir. 1988). What if, as here, he is seeking work release, which involves less confinement than ordinary imprisonment because, as the term implies, it allows him to be outside the prison during working hours? Or what if he were seeking to be confined in his home rather than in a prison?

In a series of cases that are the most like this case of any we have been able to find, the Third Circuit has held that a claim to be entitled to home furlough is a civil rights claim, not a habeas corpus claim, because if successful it would merely change the location where the prisoner's sentence is to be served. Wright v. Cuyler, 624 F.2d 455, 458 (3d Cir. 1980); Jamieson v. Robinson, 641 F.2d 138, 141 (3d Cir. 1981); Georgevich v. Strauss, 772 F.2d 1078, 1086-87 (3d Cir. 1985) (en banc) (dictum). "Merely" is an overstatement; home is a less restrictive place in which to serve one's sentence as well as a different one. Brennan v. Cunningham, 813 F.2d 1, 4-5 (1st Cir. 1987), without citing the Third Circuit's cases, reached a contrary conclusion in a case involving work release, but the case is readily distinguishable because successful completion of the work release program, which was specifically designed to test the prisoner's ability to function outside prison, would have resulted in the prisoner's being paroled — so in effect he was challenging the length of his confinement. Finally, we held in McCollum that a prisoner can use habeas corpus to get out of disciplinary segregation and into the regular prison environment, which is "freer" but of course still custodial. Yet the length of his prison term is not affected.

The cases suggest the following generalization. If the prisoner is seeking what can fairly be described as a quantum change in the level of custody — whether outright freedom, or freedom subject to the limited reporting and financial constraints of bond or parole or probation, or the run of the prison in contrast to the approximation to solitary confinement that is disciplinary segregation — then habeas corpus is his remedy. But if he is seeking a different program or location or environment, then he is challenging the conditions rather than the fact of his confinement and his remedy is under civil rights law, even if, as will usually be the case, the program or location or environment that he is challenging is more restrictive than the alternative that he seeks.

The line is not a sharp one, and work release falls smack in the middle. But since we must choose, we think it is closer to the second pole than to the first. The prisoner remains confined, but instead of spending the daytime hours working in a prison factory, he works in a factory outside the prison. The factories may be identical, proximate, and so forth and the prisoner may be under the same restrictions in either place, in which event only the location differs — not the quantum of confinement. This is not to say that the prisoner will be indifferent between the two forms of confinement. Nor will the two work places always be so similar as in our example. But lines are lines, and we place work release on the civil rights side.

So the district judge was right to rule that Graham had misconceived his remedy, and should have sued under civil rights law. He was also right to go on and consider the merits. If a prisoner who should have asked for habeas corpus misconceives his remedy, brings a civil rights suit, and fails to exhaust his state remedies, his suit must be dismissed. But if, as in this case, he asks for habeas corpus when he should have brought a civil rights suit, all he has done is mislabel his suit, and either he should be given leave to plead over or the mislabeling should simply be ignored. Andrews v. United States, 373 U.S. 334, 338, 83 S.Ct. 1236, 1239, 10 L.Ed.2d 383 (1963); United States v. Jordan, 915 F.2d 622, 624-25 (11th Cir. 1990); Lewis v. D.C. Dept. of Corrections, 533 F.2d 710 (D.C. Cir. 1976) (per curiam).

Turning, then, to the merits, we again agree with the district judge that Graham's suit has none. He complains that the parole authorities' rule discriminates between persons like himself who are recommitted solely for having violated their parole, and persons who are recommitted for having violated their parole but who have also committed some other crime. The latter but not the former class of prisoners are eligible for work release, after they have completed their original sentence. So in fact they are treated identically to prisoners like Graham, and his equal protection claim therefore fails at the threshold.

AFFIRMED.


Summaries of

Graham v. Broglin

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
Jan 7, 1991
922 F.2d 379 (7th Cir. 1991)

holding that McCollum rule applies whenever prisoner seeks "a quantum change in the level of custody"

Summary of this case from Griffin v. Gomez

holding that claims seeking "a quantum change in the level of custody" including "freedom subject to the limited reporting and financial constraints of bond or parole or probation" are properly considered in habeas corpus

Summary of this case from Plyler v. Moore

holding that an inmate may use civil rights law to "seek[] a different program or location or environment . . ., even if, as will usually be the case, the program or location or environment he is challenging is more restrictive than the alternative he seeks"

Summary of this case from Smith v. Annucci

holding that a prisoner challenging denial of work release should bring claim under civil rights law rather than a habeas petition

Summary of this case from Liphford v. Raemisch

finding that prisoner's claim for entitlement to work release was not appropriately phrased as § 2241 claim, but should be addressed in civil rights action

Summary of this case from BLOW v. BUREAU OF PRISONS

finding that prisoner's claim for entitlement to work release was not appropriately phrased as § 2241 claim, but should be addressed in civil rights action

Summary of this case from Quick v. O'Brien

concluding that work release constitutes a change in location of confinement, not a quantum change in custody

Summary of this case from Lopez v. Perry

relying on Preiser for the proposition that if a prisoner “is challenging merely the conditions of his confinement his proper remedy is under the civil rights law”

Summary of this case from Aamer v. Obama

indicating that if a prisoner seeks a "quantum change in the level of custody—whether outright freedom, or freedom subject to the limited reporting and financial constraints of bond or parole or probation, or the run of the prison in contrast to the approximation to solitary confinement that is disciplinary segregation—then habeas corpus is his remedy"

Summary of this case from Palma-Salazar v. Davis

criticizing another court's description of a home furlough as "merely chang[ing] the location where the prisoner's sentence is to be served," because "home is a less restrictive place in which to serve one's sentence as well as a different one"

Summary of this case from Gonzalez-Fuentes v. Molina

In Graham, we wrote that if a pro se litigant "asks for habeas corpus when he should have brought a civil rights suit, all he has done is mislabel his suit, and either he should be given leave to plead over or the mislabeling should simply be ignored."

Summary of this case from Glaus v. Anderson

stating that if a prisoner is challenging "merely the conditions of his confinement his proper remedy is under civil rights law" and not federal habeas

Summary of this case from Alejo v. Heller

defining "quantum change" as "outright freedom, or freedom subject to the limited reporting and financial constraints of bond or parole or probation, or the run of the prison in contrast to the approximation to solitary confinement that is disciplinary segregation"

Summary of this case from Johnson v. Litscher

stating that if a prisoner is challenging "merely the conditions of his confinement his proper remedy is under the civil rights law"

Summary of this case from Dewalt v. Carter, C.O. Young, Biester

noting that one example of a "quantum change in the level of custody" is release to the general prison population from solitary confinement

Summary of this case from Griffin v. Gomez

reaffirming McCollum

Summary of this case from Stone-Bey v. Barnes

explaining that a claim seeking to reinstate "work release" with "less confinement than ordinary imprisonment" was a Section 1983 claim because it did not challenge the inmate's custodial status

Summary of this case from Money v. Pritzker

In Graham v. Broglin, 922 F.2d 379 (7th Cir. 1991), the court held that the denial of work release was not a "quantum change" in custody level.

Summary of this case from Ahmad v. Jacquez

noting that successful completion of the work release program at issue in Brennan - a program designed to test the prisoner's ability to function outside of prison - would have led to parole

Summary of this case from Powell v. Warden

observing that if an inmate is seeking a "quantum change in the level of custody—[including] outright freedom . . . then habeas corpus is his remedy. But if he is seeking a different program or location or environment, then he is challenging the conditions rather than the fact of his confinement," and his remedy is under civil rights law

Summary of this case from Jenkins v. Spaulding

In Graham, the Seventh Circuit explained that a district court judge was right to consider the merits of a civil suit mislabeled as a habeas corpus suit. 922 F.2d at 381-82.

Summary of this case from Hurn v. Kallis

distinguishing a "quantum change in the level of custody" such as "the run of the prison in contrast to ... disciplinary segregation," which can be challenged in a habeas petition, from transfer to "a different program or location or environment," which should be challenged in a civil rights action "even if, as will usually be the case, the program or location or environment that he is challenging is more restrictive"

Summary of this case from Fiorito v. Entzel

noting that habeas corpus is the proper remedy for claiming entitlement to probation, bond, or parole, even though petitioner will not be free from all state restraint

Summary of this case from Reynolds v. St. Lawrence

stating that a habeas petition is the proper route "[i]f the prisoner is seeking what can fairly be described as a quantum change in the level of custody"

Summary of this case from Moore v. Hollingsworth

stating that a habeas petition is the proper route "[i]f the prisoner is seeking what can fairly be described as a quantum change in the level of custody"

Summary of this case from Moore v. Hollingsworth
Case details for

Graham v. Broglin

Case Details

Full title:GENE VONTELL GRAHAM, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, v. G. MICHAEL BROGLIN…

Court:United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

Date published: Jan 7, 1991

Citations

922 F.2d 379 (7th Cir. 1991)

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