United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr., Judge
Humberto Santos is trying to vacate a detainer that the
Commonwealth of Virginia said it doesn't plan to enforce.
Unfortunately, this court doesn't have the power to give
him that relief.
Santos is serving a 144-month sentence imposed by the
Superior Court for the District of Columbia. He entered into,
and has traveled through, the Bureau of Prisons with a
detainer lodged by the Arlington (Virginia) County Police
Department for robbery. The Interstate Agreement on Detainers
Act, 18 U.S.C. App. 2, provides a remedy for people who, like
Mr. Santos, face detainers from other jurisdictions. The
person may notify the detaining jurisdiction's
prosecuting officer where he can be found, and ask for a
“final disposition” of the charge on which the
detainer is based. 18 U.S.C. App. 2, § 2, Art. III(a).
If the charge on which the detainer is based isn't tried
or otherwise resolved within 180 days of that notification,
the charge is to be dismissed.
Santos has tried to follow the path mapped by the Interstate
Agreement on Detainers. In April 2015, at Mr. Santos's
request, the Bureau of Prisons sent notice to the Commwealth
Attorney in Arlington that Mr. Santos was asserting his right
under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, and could be
found at the Federal Correctional Complex in Tuscon, Arizona
(Mr. Santos has since been transferred to the federal
penitentiary at Terre Haute). No word came back from
Virginia. Pursuant to Bureau policy, a second notice was sent
to the Commonwealth Attorney in July 2015. On the same day, a
Bureau of Prisons' staff member called the Commonwealth
Attorney and was told that the Commonwealth would take no
action on the detainer.
December 2015, Mr. Santos submitted a question to Bureau of
Prisons' staff about what had become of his Interstate
Agreement on Detainers request, and was told:
There is a copy of a cop-out response to you from your
previous institution indicating that the 180-days had lapsed
on your IAD process and it was your responsibility since time
had lapsed to contact the prosecutor regarding your IAD
rights. Since your arrival at Coleman, nothing has been
received from Arlington County regarding your case and the
detainer is still in-place. If you have received anything
regarding this case, please have your unit team forward a
copy to Records for further verification.
2017, Mr. Santos filed this petition under 28 U.S.C. §
2241. It's unclear whether he did anything else with
respect to the detainer in the intervening seventeen months,
but that doesn't matter for purposes of today's
Santos asks the court to: (a) order the warden and the Bureau
of Prisons to redact from his prison records any reference to
the detainer, and (b) dismiss the Arlington charge and
expunge any reference to it in the National Criminal
Information Center files.
Santos misreads the law under which he seeks relief. The
Interstate Agreement on Detainers provides that if the charge
giving rise to the detainer isn't resolved within the
time allowed, “such indictment, information, or
complaint shall not be of any further force or effect, and
the court shall enter an order dismissing the same with
prejudice.” 18 U.S.C. App. 2, § 2, Art. III(d).
Mr. Santos understands “the court” to refer to
the federal court - this is a federal law, after all - in the
district where he, the party asserting his rights under the
Interstate Detainer, is located - in other words, the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
only court with the authority to dismiss the robbery charge
against Mr. Santos is the Commonwealth court in Arlington
County, where the case pends - and that is “the
court” to which the Interstate Detainer refers. This
federal court has no inherent authority over the county
court, and that court isn't a party to this action. Mr.
Santos's remedy (to which he might well be entitled) is
to be found in Virginia.
the Bureau of Prisons authorized to vacate the detainer
lodged by Virginia, precisely because the detainer was lodged
by Virginia, not by the BOP. If the detainer is to be removed
from the prison's records, it is Virginia that must
remove it. This isn't to say that Virginia can enforce
the detainer, or proceed on the robbery charge against Mr.
Santos - because this court doesn't have the power to
give Mr. Santos the relief he seeks, it would improper for
the court to offer its thoughts on that topic - but based on
this record, it appears that a robbery charge is still
pending against Mr. Santos in Virginia, and Virginia
hasn't withdrawn the detainer.
Santos is free to ask the courts of the Commonwealth of
Virginia to dismiss the robbery case based on a failure to
comply with the Interstate Agreement on Detainers and to
order the detainer withdrawn, but his remedy lies there. Not
court appreciates how complex things are for an inmate trying
to enforce his rights under the Interstate Agreement on
Detainers, even when the Bureau of Prisons lends a hand. But
that appreciation doesn't give the court powers it
otherwise doesn't have. The court DENIES the ...