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United States v. Arnold

filed: February 21, 1978.



Author: Gerry

Before GIBBONS, VAN DUSEN, Circuit Judges, and GERRY,*fn* District Judge

GERRY, District Judge

This appeal is from the grant of an application by Conrad A. Dancy, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, for a writ of habeas corpus. The sole issue presented is whether a youth offender, sentenced under the Federal Youth Corrections Act (YCA), 18 U.S.C. § 5005 et seq., to the custody of the Attorney General for treatment and supervision, may be confined in the general population of a federal penitentiary. The district court found that the YCA requires that youths sentenced under it be segregated from adult prisoners and granted the requested relief. The government appeals. We affirm.


Petitioner, Conrad A. Dancy, was convicted in the District of Columbia of first degree felony murder and carrying a pistol without a license.*fn1 Because Dancy was under 22 years of age, the trial court committed him to the Lorton Youth Center for 60 days for study and evaluation pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 5010(e), to determine if he would benefit from a YCA sentence.The resulting report, while finding that Dancy was not totally devoid of rehabilitative potential, recommended that he be denied YCA treatment and given an adult sentence. United States v. Dancy, 510 F.2d 779, 781, 786, 166 U.S. App. D.C. 399 (D.C. Cir. 1975). Relying on this recommendation, the trial judge sentenced petitioner to an adult term of imprisonment of twenty years to life.*fn2 In passing sentence the judge commented that because of Dancy's criminal sophistication, his prior record, and the recommendation of the Youth Center, he had "no alternative under the statute" than to impose an adult sentence. Id. at 784, 790-91. On appeal, this comment led the D.C. Circuit to find that the "trial judge evidently believed that the statute barred him from sentencing Dancy to a youth term against the recommendation of the Youth Center officials." Id. at 785. This reading of the statute, the court found, was erroneous and surrendered the court's sentencing discretion to the Youth Center authorities.The case was remanded to the district court for resentencing. On remand the district judge imposed a YCA sentence of twenty years under 18 U.S.C. § 5010(c).

After resentencing, petitioner was transferred from the Lorton Youth Center, where he had been confined for four years, to the federal reformatory at Petersburg, Virginia. Authorities there determined, based on his past record and the seriousness of his offense, that he was not properly classified for Petersburg, and he was placed in administrative detention pending transfer to a more appropriate institution. While in administrative detention, Dancy received two misconduct reports, one for encouraging others to riot, and was disciplined. He also experienced "adjustment problems." There is no evidence that he was a disciplinary or adjustment problem while he was confined at Lorton.

Dancy requested transfer back to Lorton so he could take advantage of its educational programs.Instead he was transferred to the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Lewisburg is a medium security federal penitentiary designed for adults who require close supervision. It has no separate housing or treatment facilities for YCA inmates. Dancy was placed in the general population at Lewisburg, and the government does not contend that he received any rehabilitative treatment different from that available to adult prisoners or that such treatment is available at Lewisburg.


Dancy is confined pursuant to § 5011 of the YCA, which provides:

Committed youth offenders not conditionally released shall undergo treatment in institutions of maximum security, medium security, or minimum security types, including training schools, hospitals, farms, forestry and other camps, and other agencies that will provide the essential varieties of treatment. The Director shall from time to time designate, set aside, and adapt institutions and agencies under the control of the Department of Justice for treatment.Insofar as practical, such institutions and agencies shall be used only for treatment of committed youth offenders, and such youth offenders shall be segregated from other offenders, and classes of committed youth offenders shall be segregated according to their needs for treatment.

18 U.S.C. § 5011. He maintains that, under this section, committed youth offenders must be segregated from other offenders at all times, and that confining him among adult prisoners in a federal penitentiary is contrary to the terms of his sentence.The government, however, argues that YCA inmates need only be segregated from other offenders "insofar as practical," and that the Attorney General is authorized by 18 U.S.C. § 4082*fn3 to designate the place of confinement of all federal prisoners. We believe that petitioner's construction of this section is correct. As we read § 5011, it provides that committed youth offenders are to receive treatment at institutions of the types specified, and that, insofar as practical, these institutions should be used only for that purpose. In any event, however, youths committed under the YCA must be segregated from other offenders even if it is impractical to place them in institutions used solely for the treatment of youth offenders. Segregation of youth offenders from adult prisoners is, we believe, mandated by the YCA.

Because the language of the statute is capable of more than one interpretation, cf. United States v. Alsbrook, 336 F. Supp. 973, 977 n.9 (D. D.C. 1971), we must examine the statutory scheme as a whole, its purpose and its history. This review has convined us that our interpretation of § 5011 is correct and that Congress intended the ...

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