Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rehabilitative Needs Can Be Considered to Determine Whether to Revoke Supervised Release and the Duration of Imprisonment Upon Revocation

In United States v. Doe, No. 09-2615 (August 16, 2010), the Third Court affirmed revocation of Doe’s supervised release and imposition of a 24 month term of imprisonment followed by an additional 12 months supervised release on the basis that Congress intended, in 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e), that District Courts should consider a defendant’s medical and rehabilitative needs in assessing whether to revoke supervised release and the duration of imprisonment that is appropriate upon revocation.

Doe pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver five grams or more of crack cocaine and was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment followed by 4 years of supervised release, the terms of which provided that Doe may not possess or use a controlled substance. Doe violated these terms on several occasions by testing positive for use of cocaine. Following a third petition on revocation of supervised release, the district court revoked Doe’s supervised release explaining to the defendant that "...I am doing it in an attempt to protect you from yourself." Doe appealed based on § 3582(a) which forbids a district court from imposing a term of imprisonment for the sole purpose of a defendant’s rehabilitation at the time of post-conviction sentencing.

The Court distinguished post-conviction sentencing from post-revocation sentencing and held that § 3582(a) does not preclude a district court from considering rehabilitative needs when revoking supervised release and requiring the defendant to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison.

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