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Robinson v. Ralston

decided: March 5, 1981.

JOHN CARROLL ROBINSON, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, CROSS-APPELLANT,
v.
GEORGE A. RALSTON, WARDEN, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT, CROSS-APPELLEE .



Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. CV 78-2347 -- James L. Foreman, Judge .

Before Swygert, Circuit Judge, Wisdom, Senior Circuit Judge,*fn* and Pell, Circuit Judge.

Author: Swygert

The issue in this appeal is whether a youth offender serving a sentence imposed under the Federal Youth Corrections Act (YCA), 18 U.S.C. § 5005 et seq., must be treated according to the terms of the YCA after he has received two subsequent adult sentences to run consecutive to his YCA sentence. We hold that under the provisions of the YCA, petitioner-appellee must be treated pursuant to the YCA until the termination of his YCA-imposed sentence despite his subsequent sentencing as an adult. Accordingly, we affirm.

I

Petitioner-appellee John Carroll Robinson was seventeen years old when in 1974 he was sentenced to a ten-year term for second degree murder under the provisions of the Federal Youth Corrections Act (YCA), 18 U.S.C. § 5010(c).*fn1 The trial judge recommended that "his release be dependent upon the attainment of at least an eighth grade level of education and the successful completion of a trade of his own choosing." In addition, the judge recommended participation "in intensive, individual therapy on a weekly basis...."

During his incarceration at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky, Robinson was found guilty of assaulting a federal officer. The second trial judge decided that Robinson would not benefit from treatment under the YCA and imposed an additional ten-year adult sentence, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4208(b). After receiving a report and recommendation from the Bureau of Prisons, the judge reduced the second ten-year sentence to sixty-six months, to run consecutive to the previously-imposed YCA sentence.

After several subsequent transfers, Robinson was placed in the Federal Correctional Institution in Lompoc, California where he pled guilty to assaulting another federal officer. For that offense, he was given a regular adult sentence of one year and one day to run consecutive to his YCA and other adult sentences. The third trial judge did not make an explicit finding that Robinson would receive no benefit from a YCA sentence, although it is not disputed that Robinson was still eligible for sentencing under the YCA.

After the imposition of his second adult sentence, Robinson was placed in the United States Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana, where he was treated as a regular adult offender. He was not segregated from non-YCA adult offenders nor was he provided the treatment mandated by section 5011 of the Youth Corrections Act, 18 U.S.C. § 5011.*fn2 It is not disputed that Robinson was at that time serving his initial YCA sentence. After exhausting his administrative remedies, Robinson filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on May 25, 1978 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The case was subsequently transferred to the Southern District of Illinois because in September 1978 Robinson was moved to the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois. Robinson was still serving his YCA sentence when he was incarcerated with adult prisoners in the control unit at Marion. The basis of the habeas petition was that Robinson was serving a YCA sentence and was therefore entitled to be segregated from adult offenders pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 5011.

On the recommendation of the United States Magistrate that Robinson be transferred to an institution in which he would be segregated from adult offenders and receive the treatment contemplated by the YCA, Judge Foreman granted Robinson a writ of habeas corpus, concluding "after a thorough researching of the applicable statute and case law, ... that Congress has mandated the result which the Magistrate has arrived at." On January 7, 1980 the district court ordered the Government to transfer Robinson from Marion to an institution where he would be segregated from other adult offenders and would receive the prescribed treatment. On January 16, 1980, the Government filed a motion to stay the order pending appeal. That motion was granted.

The Government appealed from the district court's January 7 order granting the writ of habeas corpus, and Robinson appealed the January 22 stay of that order. The appeals were consolidated.

On June 17, 1980, Robinson was again transferred, this time from Marion to the Federal Correctional Institution at Memphis, Tennessee. The institution at Memphis does have a YCA unit, but Robinson was housed with the general adult prison population and did not receive YCA-mandated treatment.*fn3

II

The respondent Warden contends that the district court erred in holding that the YCA requires that petitioner be treated according to the provisions of the YCA after he has received two subsequent adult sentences to run consecutive to his YCA sentence. Petitioner argues that the decision reached by the district court is mandated both by the YCA and the United States Constitution.*fn4

The issue before us has never been decided by this court. The Third Circuit, however, faced with a similar fact pattern, concluded that a second judge's determination that an offender would not derive benefit from a YCA sentence and must therefore serve the second sentence as an adult prisoner was also a finding that "continued service of the original sentence under YCA conditions is no longer beneficial." Thompson v. Carlson, 624 F.2d 415, 422 (3d Cir. 1980) (emphasis in original). On the basis that there was a "judicial reevaluation (of the original YCA sentence) in light of currently available information," the court held that the offender could be treated as an adult for the duration of his YCA sentence. Id. Because we conclude that the YCA mandates that the petitioner be treated as a YCA prisoner so long as he is serving his YCA sentence, we respectfully disagree with the decision of the Third Circuit.*fn5

At the outset we note that in both our case and in Thompson, the judge imposing the consecutive adult sentence made no actual reevaluation of the YCA sentence then being served. Rather the Warden here argues and the court in Thompson concluded that the subsequent judge's determination that the sentence he imposed should be served as an adult was an implicit finding that the offender would not continue to benefit from YCA treatment for the duration of his YCA sentence. We find no evidence in the record from which to conclude that the subsequent judges did in fact reevaluate the original YCA sentence; ...


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