United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
prisoner Michael Patrick Geraghty has filed a petition under
28 U.S.C. § 2241 in which he challenges his security
classification on multiple grounds. The petition is before
the court for preliminary review under Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases, which the court may apply to
Section 2241 petitions. See Rule 1(b), Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases. Under Rule 4, a district court
will dismiss the petition only if it plainly appears that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief. I will dismiss the
petition because Geraghty cannot challenge his security
classification under § 2241.
primary claim is that the Bureau of Prisons is violating his
right to due process by housing him at the Federal
Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin when he should
be housed at a lower-security facility. Geraghty alleges
that the Bureau gave him the wrong security classification
because of a false allegation in his presentence report
regarding a “murder-for-hire plot.” This is not
the type of claim that can be raised in the context of a
habeas petition, which is limited to a challenge to the
validity or duration of a prisoner's confinement.
Pischke v. Litscher, 178 F.3d 497, 499-500 (7th Cir.
1999) (habeas is the proper vehicle for presenting a claim
“only if the prisoner is seeking to ‘get out'
of custody in some meaningful sense”). Challenges to a
prisoner's conditions of confinement must be brought in a
civil action. Glaus v. Anderson, 408 F.3d 382,
387-88 (7th Cir. 2005).
line between the two kinds of cases can be fuzzy” when
the prisoner is seeking something less than complete release
(such as transfer to a halfway house), Knowlin v.
Gray, No. 12-cv-926-bbc, 2013 WL 541525, at *1 (W.D.
Wis. Feb. 13, 2013), but the court of appeals has held that
changes in classification and prison transfers do not qualify
as a “quantum change in the level of custody, ”
which is the standard for a habeas petition. Falcon v.
U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 52 F.3d 137, 139 (7th Cir. 1995)
(habeas petition not proper vehicle when prisoner is
“challenging only his location within the BOP
system”). This is true even if the prisoner's
current housing or classification is “more restrictive
than the alternative that he seeks.” Graham v.
Broglin, 922 F.2d 379, 381 (7th Cir.1991). See also
Bakhtiari v. Walton, No. 13-906-JPG, 2013 WL 4768062, at
*3 (S.D. Ill. Sept. 4, 2013) (“Changes in a
prisoner's security level or changes in confinement from
one prison to another cannot be attacked using 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241.”). Thus, Geraghty's challenge to his
security classification belongs in a civil lawsuit.
cannot convert Geraghty's habeas petition into a civil
case because the two types of cases “have different
procedural requirements and different potential
consequences” that could affect a prisoner's
decision to file one rather than the other. Moran v.
Sondalle, 218 F.3d 647, 651 (7th Cir. 2000). For
example, a civil case has a larger filing fee and may result
in filing restrictions if the case is dismissed at the
screening stage. Id. at 649. Thus, I will dismiss
the case without prejudice to Geraghty's refiling it as a
civil case if he wishes to do so.
Geraghty did refile his due process claim, I would dismiss it
for a failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A.
The due process clause applies only when a prisoner has been
deprived of liberty or property within the meaning of the
clause, and the court of appeals has held that
“prisoners possess neither liberty nor property in
their classifications and prison assignments.”
DeTomaso v. McGinnis, 970 F.2d 211, 212 (7th Cir.
1992). See also Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88
n.9 (1976) (prisoner unhappy with his security classification
“has no legitimate statutory or constitutional
entitlement sufficient to invoke due process”). Thus,
even if Geraghty is correct that he was classified
incorrectly as a result of false information in his
presentence report, his due process claim would fail.
also includes a race discrimination claim in his petition,
alleging that the “BOP's custody classification
system is racist.” Dkt. 1, at 7. Again, Geraghty cannot
bring this claim in the context of a habeas petition.
prisoner may bring a civil case about race discrimination in
prison, Johnson v. California, 543 U.S. 499, 510-511
(2005), but the claim must relate to discrimination against
the plaintiff. It is not enough for Geraghty to allege what
Bureau officials “usually” do. Parties may not
sue the government whenever they believe that it has violated
the law. Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 754 (1984).
Rather, Geraghty must show that officials violated
his constitutional rights. Kawasaki Heavy
Industries, Ltd. v. Bombardier Recreational Products,
Inc., 660 F.3d 988, 999 (7th Cir. 2011). He must also
identify individual officials who allegedly discriminated
against him and name them in the caption of his complaint.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a). Federal agencies such as the Bureau
cannot be sued for constitutional violations. FDIC v.
Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 486 (1994). If Geraghty chooses to
refile his discrimination claim, he will have to meet these
ORDERED that Michael Patrick Geraghty's petition for a
writ of habeas corpus is DISMISSED because Geraghty is not
challenging the validity or duration of his confinement.
clerk of court is directed to enter judgment accordingly.
 According to the Bureau's website,
Oxford is a medium-security facility.