The Supreme Court says that judges cannot give longer sentences to convicted felons just so they may be sent to a rehabilitation program in custody. In a 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that judges could not increase a defendant’s sentence just so the Federal Bureau of Prisons could fit them into their 500 hour drug treatment program.
It has long been known that an inmate who participated in the Fed’s 500 hour in custody drug treatment program could earn time off the end of their sentence for successfully completing it. For this reason and hopefully for treatment purposes, inmates in federal custody have been requesting the program for years. However, the Bureau of Prisons has specific requirements for inmates who wish to attend the program. They must be non-violent, not subject to deportation after their sentence and they must be serving a minimum amount of time in custody in order to qualify.
The problem came about when judges took defendants looking at a prison term which was too short to qualify the inmate for the rehabilitation program and then increased the sentence just so the inmate would be able to qualify for the program. Not o.k. says the U.S. Supreme Court. The opinion cited the language of the federal sentencing guidelines which states that we may not imprison inmates for the purpose of “promoting correction and rehabilitation.” Or, in the words of one of my favorite Ventura County judges: “You can do all the rehabilitation you want after you finish your jail time.”
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