United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. FABER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Standing Order, this action was referred to United States
Magistrate Judge Omar J. Aboulhosn for submission of findings
and recommendation regarding disposition pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn
submitted to the court his Proposed Findings and
Recommendation (“PF&R”) on February 21, 2019,
in which he recommended that the court dismiss
petitioner’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, deny
petitioner’s application to proceed without prepayment
of fees, deny petitioner’s motion for preliminary
injunction/temporary restraining order, and remove this case
from the court’s active docket.
accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b),
petitioner was allotted fourteen days and three mailing days
in which to file any objections to Magistrate Judge
Aboulhosn’s Findings and Recommendation. The failure of
any party to file such objections within the time allowed
constitutes a waiver of such party’s right to a de
novo review by this court. Snyder v. Ridenour,
889 F.2d 1363 (4th Cir. 1989). On March 4, 2019, petitioner,
acting pro se, timely submitted objections to the
PF&R. See ECF No. 8.
objects to two specific findings made by Magistrate Judge
Aboulhosn. First, he objects to the PF&R’s finding
that challenges to prison conditions of confinement are not
cognizable as Section 2241 habeas claims, and should instead
be filed as a Bivens or Section 1983 action. Second,
petitioner objects to the PF&R’s finding that
administrative remedies must be exhausted before filing a
Section 2241 habeas petition. The court addresses each
objection, with de novo review, in turn.
Objection 1 – Conditions of Confinement Claims in
issue of whether a prisoner may challenge the conditions of
confinement in a habeas proceeding has not been definitively
resolved by the Supreme Court. Compare Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973) (recognizing that
habeas corpus might possibly be available to challenge prison
conditions), and Wilwording v. Swenson, 404 U.S.
249, 249–51 (1971) (recognizing challenges to prison
“living conditions and disciplinary measures” are
“cognizable in federal habeas corpus”), with
Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004) (explaining
that “[c]hallenges to the validity of any confinement
or to particulars affecting its duration are the province of
habeas corpus . . . [while] requests for relief turning on
circumstances of confinement may be presented in a §
1983 action.”), and Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S.
520, 527 n.6 (1979) (“[W]e leave to another day the
question of the propriety of using a writ of habeas corpus to
obtain review of the conditions of confinement, as distinct
from the fact or length of the confinement itself.”).
In answering this open question, the Fourth Circuit has
consistently, albeit never directly, concluded that most
conditions of confinement claims are not cognizable in habeas
proceedings. See, e.g., Rodriguez v.
Ratledge, 715 F. App’x 261, 265–66 (4th Cir.
2017) (“[C]ourts have generally held that a § 1983
suit or a Bivens action is the appropriate means of
challenging conditions of confinement, whereas § 2241
petitions are not.”); Braddy v. Wilson, 580
Fed. App’x 172 (4th Cir. 2014) (dismissing a habeas
petition alleging a condition of confinement claim as
improperly brought under Section 2241); Todd v.
Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70, 73 (4th Cir. 1983) (“The
principle to be deduced from Preiser . . . appears
to be that when the claim relat[es] to [conditions of
confinement] . . . the suit [must be] a § 1983
courts within this district have consistently held that
challenges to conditions of confinement are not cognizable in
habeas proceedings. See Hargrove v. Masters, 2017 WL
712758, at *2 (S.D.W.Va. Feb. 23, 2017) (“challenges to
the conditions of  confinement are not cognizable under
§ 2241, but instead must be pursued through a
Bivens action”); see also Brown v.
Zeigler, 2013 WL 4500473, at *6–7 (S.D.W.Va. Aug.
20, 2013); Daniel v. Craig, 2008 WL 644883, at *2
(S.D.W.Va. Mar. 7, 2008); Berry v. McBride, 2006 WL
2861077, at *1 (S.D.W.Va. Oct. 5, 2006).
court concludes that challenges to conditions of confinement
are not cognizable in habeas proceedings under Section 2241.
Petitioner’s challenges to his conditions of
confinement are that respondent is “subjecting the
whole population to a deprivation of nutritious meals, proper
ventilation for warmth, and endangering inmate life for going
on twenty-eight days.” See ECF No. 2, at 6.
These claims do not contain the kind of quantum changes in
confinement without due process or just cause that are the
only kind of challenges to conditions of confinement
cognizable in habeas proceedings. See supra, at n.1.
Therefore, petitioner’s Objection 1 is
Objection 2 – Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies in
Section 2241 Proceedings
objects that Section 2241, unlike the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (“PLRA”), does not explicitly require
administrative remedies to be exhausted before a prisoner may
bring a Section 2241 claim. Compare 28 U.S.C. §
2241, with 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. While it is true
that Section 2241 does not contain a statutory mandate that
administrative remedies be exhausted, courts may judicially
impose such a requirement. See Jaworski v.
Gutierrez, 509 F.Supp.2d 573, 577 (N.D.W.Va. 2007)
(“[T]he exhaustion requirement in habeas corpus actions
arising under § 2241 . . . has no statutory mandate, but
rather is judicially imposed.”). The Fourth Circuit has
consistently done so, and requires litigants to exhaust their
alternative remedies before bringing Section 2241 claims.
See Timms v. Johns, 627 F.3d 525, 530–31 (4th
Cir. 2010) (explaining that exhaustion is required before a
habeas action may be brought). This is because requiring
exhaustion promotes the “‘important
considerations of federal court efficiency and
administration.’” Id. (quoting Moore
v. United States, 875 F.Supp. 620, 624 (D. Neb. 1994)).
Only in “‘exceptional circumstances’”
should exhaustion be waived, id. (quoting Bowen
v. Johnson, 306 U.S. 19, 27 (1939)), such as when the
administrative remedy process would be futile. See
Jaworski, 509 F.Supp.2d at 577.
petitioner has made it clear that he has not exhausted his
administrative remedies. Nor has he put forth any evidence
suggesting why doing so would be futile. Therefore, this
court finds no exceptional circumstances exist here to excuse
petitioner’s failure to exhaust, and thus he is
required to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing
a Section 2241 petition. Petitioner’s Objection 2 is