Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard
in that court on appeal from the Circuit
MR. JUSTICE UNDERWOOD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant Paul Goffman was convicted of murder in a jury trial in the circuit court of Will County. Goffman killed a correctional officer at Stateville Penitentiary, where he was serving a term of four years to four years and a day for robbery. On November 14, 1973, Goffman was sentenced for the second offense to a term of 75 to 150 years in the penitentiary to be served consecutively to the prior sentence. The Appellate Court for the Third District affirmed (33 Ill. App.3d 256), and we allowed leave to appeal.
Defendant John Teague was convicted of rape in a jury trial in the circuit court of Will County. His victim was the daughter of the warden of the minimum security unit at Stateville Penitentiary, where Teague was serving a 30 to 60 year term for another rape. On July 20, 1973, Teague was sentenced for the second offense to a term of 40 to 75 years in the penitentiary, to be served consecutively to the prior sentence. The Appellate Court for the Third District affirmed (32 Ill. App.3d 76), and we allowed leave to appeal. The two cases have been consolidated for argument and opinion.
The only issue before this court concerns the propriety of the minimum terms of defendants' sentences. At the time defendants were sentenced, paragraph (f) of section 5-8-4 of the Unified Code of Corrections provided:
"A sentence of an offender committed to the Department of Corrections at the time of the commission of the offense shall not commence until expiration of the sentence under which he is held by the Department of Corrections." (Laws of 1972, at 2258.)
The parties agree this paragraph provides for a mandatory consecutive sentence for offenses committed while an offender is in the custody of the Department of Corrections. Defendants argue, however, that a sentence imposed under paragraph (f) is subject to the limitations of paragraph (c) of the same section, which provided at the time defendants were sentenced:
"The aggregate minimum period of consecutive sentences shall not exceed twice the lowest minimum term authorized under Section 5-8-1 for the most serious felony involved." Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 38, par. 1005-8-4(c).
Goffman contends that because of paragraph (c) the minimum term of his sentence for murder cannot exceed 24 years. The lowest minimum term authorized for the offense of murder, the most serious felony involved, is 14 years. (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 38, par. 1005-8-1(c)(1).) Twice that figure is 28 years, which under paragraph (c) would represent the greatest aggregate minimum period authorized for Goffman's consecutive sentences. Thus, because Goffman was already serving a sentence with a four-year minimum term, he argues that his minimum term for murder be reduced from 75 to 24 years.
Teague concedes that compliance with paragraph (c) is impossible in his case. Both of his convictions were for rape, for which the lowest authorized minimum term is four years. (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 38, par. 1005-8-1(c)(2).) Under paragraph (c), therefore, the greatest aggregate minimum period authorized for Teague's consecutive sentences would be eight years. But Teague's minimum term of 30 years for the first rape is already greatly in excess of eight years and cannot now be reduced. Accordingly, no sentence the trial judge might have imposed for the second rape would have satisfied the paragraph (c) limitation upon consecutive sentences if that paragraph is applicable to these cases. Teague argues, however, that in order to comply with paragraph (c) to the fullest extent possible, we should reduce the minimum term of his second rape sentence from 40 to four years, the lowest authorized minimum.
We do not agree with defendants' contention that paragraph (c) limits consecutive sentences imposed under paragraph (f). A trial judge ordinarily has discretion, within the limitations established by paragraph (a) of section 5-8-4, to impose concurrent or consecutive sentences:
"When multiple sentences of imprisonment are imposed on a defendant at the same time, or when a term of imprisonment is imposed on a defendant who is already subject to an undischarged sentence in this State or for a sentence imposed by any district court of the United States, the sentences shall run concurrently or consecutively as determined by the court." (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1972 Supp., ch. 38, par. 1005-8-4(a).)
If, in the exercise of that discretion, a judge decides to impose consecutive sentences, he is clearly limited in so doing by paragraph (c). A judge may, however, conclude that the paragraph (c) limitation on the aggregate minimum period is too restrictive in a particular case, and may therefore impose concurrent sentences with higher minimum terms than paragraph (c) would permit. See People v. Nicks (1976), 62 Ill.2d 350; People v. Morgan (1974), 59 Ill.2d 276.
Under paragraph (f), however, a judge has no discretion to impose a concurrent sentence. Without this option, his ability to tailor a sentence to the circumstances of the offense would be severely restricted if he were limited by paragraph (c). This result appears contrary to the legislative purpose in paragraph (f) mandating harsher penalties for offenses committed while incarcerated. And in some instances, as in the case of Teague, compliance with the paragraph (c) limitation is impossible. This incompatibility is persuasive evidence, in our judgment, that the General Assembly intended that paragraph (f) not be limited by paragraph (c).
We also find significant the language difference between a "consecutive" sentence referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) and a sentence that "shall not commence until expiration of the sentence under which he is held by the Department of Corrections" referred to in paragraph (f). Defendants argue, in effect, that this difference is unintentional and that the language in paragraph (f) may be readily explained because it was carried over from a predecessor statute. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 108, par. 118 (repealed).) Defendants overlook, however, that paragraph (a) also had a predecessor that employed language similar to paragraph (f):
"When a person shall have been convicted of 2 or more offenses which did not result from the same conduct, either before or after sentence has been pronounced upon him for either, the court in its discretion may order that the term of imprisonment upon any one of the convictions may commence at the expiration of the term of imprisonment ...