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This Article is about a legal phenomenon known as the Preiser Puzzle. More precisely, the article concerns a possible solution to the Preiser Puzzle articulated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In part, this Article has a descriptive aim: The Authors will explain the Eleventh Circuit’s solution both in the abstract (this section, below), and by giving issue–specific examples in section three that may prove useful to practitioners. Important issues at present include: (a) challenges to parole procedures, (b) method of execution challenges, and (c) requests for release from administrative segregation. Yet this Article also has an important normative aim.

To appreciate both aims, one must first revisit the Preiser Puzzle, and the eponymous case of Preiser v. Rodriguez. Preiser concerned a prisoner’s claim for the restoration of good-time credits, withdrawn for bad behavior, that would have led to a speedier release. The prisoner advanced this claim in an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but the Supreme Court of the United States held that the prisoner should instead have raised the claim in a habeas action. The Court stated that claims “attacking the very duration of . . . physical confinement” fall within the “core of habeas.” Preiser thus stands for the proposition that core habeas claims must be raised in a habeas action, not a § 1983 action.