FEDERAL HABEAS CORPUS
(28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-53, 2255)
Federal prisoners may file two different kinds of motions for
post-conviction relief: "Section 2255 motions" and "Section 2241 habeas
Prisoners may file motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 challenging their
convictions and sentences. A Section 2255 motion must be filed in the
district where the prisoner was convicted and sentenced. The motion usually
seeks to have the sentence or conviction vacated and may also request
resentencing. As a general matter, Section 2255 is the proper vehicle for
almost all federal prisoner collateral attacks.
Prisoners may file post-conviction habeas corpus petitions under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 in two circumstances: 1) where the prisoner does not
challenge the validity of his conviction and sentence, but rather its
execution (for example, claims that the BOP miscalculated a sentence or
failed to properly award good time credits, or complaints about conditions
of confinement are properly raised in habeas corpus petitions), and 2) in
exceptional cases where the prisoner can show that his remedy under Section
2255 is "inadequate or ineffective" under 28 U.S.C. § 2255
¶ 5. Section 2241 habeas corpus petitions must be filed in the
district where the prisoner is confined, and are litigated by the U.S.
Attorneys' Offices in the districts where the petitions are filed.
AUSAs who have questions about handling a Section 2255 motion or Section
2241 habeas corpus petition should consult their office liaison in the
Criminal Appellate Section. See also
Criminal Resource Manual 745 ("Protocol for the Effective Handling of
Collateral Attacks on Convictions Brought Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2241").
[updated December 2005]