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United States v. Hollins

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

February 1, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Sylvia Hollins, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued September 12, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 07-CR-20006 - Harold A. Baker, Judge.

          Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and Easterbrook and Sykes, Circuit Judges.

          WOOD, CHIEF JUDGE.

         This case comes to us for the second time after a district court revoked Sylvia Hollins's supervised release stemming from her 2007 federal conviction. In the first appeal, we granted a joint motion for summary reversal and remand for resentencing. See United States v. Hollins, No. 15-3750 (7th Cir. Jan. 27, 2016). The district court obliged with a resentencing hearing held on February 25, 2016. Hollins has appealed from the new sentence, which she asserts is tainted by several procedural flaws. We find no error, however, and so we affirm the district court's judgment.

         I

         Hollins has struggled for nearly 30 years against her addiction to crack cocaine. Unfortunately, but predictably, this has led to a long string of criminal convictions involving incarceration, stints in various treatment centers, and home confinement. In the present case, she pleaded guilty in 2007 to distributing five or more grams of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B). She was sentenced to 92 months' imprisonment and eight years of supervised release. The Bureau of Prisons released her in November 2012.

         Over the next year, Hollins tested positive for cocaine numerous times and was convicted of theft in the Champaign County (Illinois) Circuit Court. She received a very light sentence-three days in jail-but this conviction prompted the district court to modify her conditions of supervised release. It required her to spend 120 days in community confinement in a local jail, so that she could "get clean" and "regain focus of her life." The court's hopes were unrealized. Following her release from the jail in December 2013, Hollins again tested positive for cocaine use on several different occasions. Once again, the district court modified her supervised release and gave her another 120 days of community confinement at the Prairie Center, an addiction treatment facility. While at the Center she tested positive for cocaine and was returned to the county jail for the rest of her sentence.

         In May 2014, still concerned about her drug use, the district court modified Hollins's supervision conditions to add six months of in-home confinement. Hollins began to serve that sentence upon her release from the county jail in June 2014, but she failed again. She was arrested for retail theft in Urbana, Illinois, in September 2014, during the term of her in-home confinement. The district court thereupon placed her in community confinement for 120 days and stayed her in-home confinement. She completed the community confinement on February 4, 2015, and resumed her in-home confinement on February 27, 2015.

         On March 16, 2015, Hollins pleaded guilty in state court to the retail theft charge stemming from her September 2014 arrest and was sentenced to one year's imprisonment in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC)-a sentence that was to start on May 13, 2015. Between February and May 2015, Hollins failed to report for drug testing on three occasions. She attended outpatient substance abuse and mental health counseling sessions between February and May, but she was discharged for failing to participate successfully in the program; the discharge was dated May 13, 2015, the day she reported for her Illinois sentence. At that point she had 31 days of her federal in-home confinement remaining to be served.

         While Hollins was in IDOC's custody, her probation officer petitioned the district court to revoke her supervised release based on her two retail theft convictions. The district court issued a warrant and Hollins was detained pending her revocation hearing after IDOC released her in November 2015. The district court conducted the first revocation hearing on December 7, 2015. On January 26, 2016, we granted the parties' joint motion for summary reversal and remanded for resentencing in light of United States v. Boultinghouse, 784 F.3d 1163, 1178 (7th Cir. 2015). The district court conducted the resentencing hearing on February 25, 2016. At that hearing, the government recommended a 24-month sentence, Hollins argued in favor of a 12-month sentence, and the district court imposed a 28-month sentence. The district court issued an order on February 26, 2015, clarifying the reasons behind its decision to revoke supervised release and impose the additional prison time.

         II

         Hollins argues that the district court procedurally erred at the resentencing hearing by failing adequately to address her arguments in mitigation, relying on the probation officer's recommendation, and failing adequately to address the factors listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

         We review challenges to the sentence imposed at a revocation hearing under a highly deferential standard comparable to that with which we review sanctions imposed by prison disciplinary boards. Boultinghouse, 784 F.3d at 1177. We will affirm the district court's chosen sentence as long as it is not "plainly unreasonable." Id. When revoking supervised release, a district judge must consider the Sentencing Guidelines policy statements, which are found in U.S.S.G. Chapter 7, Part B. The judge must also consider the ...


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