Rehabilitation Concerns Are out of Place at Resentencing Writes J Souter

On July 6, a federal court of appeals vindicated the claims of an unjust sentence made by a registered sex offender after he was resentenced to a 22 month prison term, a sentence that greatly exceeded the statutory guideline range of 3 to 9 months.

After being convicted of possession of child pornography, the young man served his term of incarceration and was granted supervised release. A court revoked his release after the probation department claimed that he violated a condition of his release by having unsupervised contact with a person under the age of 18 and misinforming his probation officer.

The 1st Circuit court declared that the young man had violated the terms of his release and was in need of rehabilitative services. In fact, according to the resentencing order, the rehabilitation concerns were the basis of the extended sentence. The court claimed that the additional time would allow ample time for the defendant to complete a sex therapy program and merely recommended a specific prison with an appropriate 18 month course.

After receiving the extended sentence for “rehabilitation purposes,” the defendant was not even placed in a prison that had absolutely no sexual rehabilitation program to offer. Feeling a sense of injustice, the defendant filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.

Former United States Supreme Court Justice Souter wrote the opinion that revoked the resentencing order and remanded the case. Extending a precedential case, Souter wrote that the court felt “bound to conclude that rehabilitation concerns must be treated as out of place at a resentencing to prison, just as ordering commitment initially.”

Source: The National Law Journal, “In opinion by Souter, 1st Circuit bars resentencing of sex offender based on need for treatment,” Sheri Qualters, 8 July 2011

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