Johnson v. U.S.

Citation154 F.3d 569
Decision Date21 January 1999
Docket NumberNo. 97-1151,97-1151
PartiesRoy Lee JOHNSON, Petitioner-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Respondent-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit

Kevin M. Schad (argued and briefed), Schad, Buda, Lucia & Cook, Cincinnati, OH, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Jennifer J. Peregord (argued), Kelvin W. Scott, U.S. Atty. (briefed), Office of U.S. Atty., Detroit, MI, for Respondent-Appellee.

Before: MERRITT, KENNEDY, and GILMAN, Circuit Judges.

MERRITT, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which KENNEDY, J., joined. GILMAN, J. (pp. 572-73), delivered a separate dissenting opinion.


MERRITT, Circuit Judge.

This appeal from the District Court's partial denial of petitioner Roy Lee Johnson's motion to modify his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 raises a single issue: When a criminal defendant's sentence of imprisonment is reduced below the time he has already served, does his term of supervised release commence on the date of his actual release or on the date he should have been released according to his revised sentence?

In 1990 a jury convicted Johnson of five separate offenses: (1) possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a); (2) use of firearms during and relating to the cocaine trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); (3) possession with intent to distribute Dilaudid in violation of § 841(a); (4) use of a firearm during and relating to the Dilaudid trafficking offense in violation of § 924(c); and (5) possession of a firearm after having previously been convicted of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Johnson's sentence of 171 months imprisonment included two consecutive five-year terms for the § 924(c) offenses. The court also imposed a three-year term of supervised release on the drug charges. A panel of this Court affirmed the conviction in all respects, but on rehearing, we held that the District Court erred in sentencing Johnson to consecutive terms of imprisonment for the two § 924(c) violations. United States v. Johnson, 25 F.3d 1335, 1337-38 (6th Cir.1994) (en banc). In August 1994, District Judge Horace Gilmore resentenced Johnson to concurrent five-year terms for the § 924(c) convictions. Johnson filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in March 1996, and Judge Gilmore vacated the two § 924(c) convictions in light of the Supreme Court's new decision in Bailey v. United States, 516 U.S. 137, 116 S.Ct. 501, 133 L.Ed.2d 472 (1995). Because Johnson had already served more time in prison than called for under the revised sentence, Judge Gilmore ordered his immediate release. He refused, however, to credit the extra time Johnson served in prison toward his three-year term of supervised release.

On appeal, Johnson argues that his term of supervised release should be deemed to have commenced on the date on which he was entitled to be released in light of Bailey. The relevant statute provides that a person's "term of supervised release commences on the day the person is released from imprisonment," and that a "term of supervised release does not run during any period in which the person is imprisoned in connection with a conviction for a Federal, State, or local crime." 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e). Another portion of the statute states that a "prisoner shall be released by the Bureau of Prisons on the date of the expiration of the prisoner's term of imprisonment." 18 U.S.C. § 3624(a). Relying on the language of § 3624(a), Johnson contends that we should consider "the day he [was] released from imprisonment" for purposes of § 3624(e) to be the date he was entitled to be released under Bailey 's interpretation of § 924(c) and the resulting revised sentence.

Our Court has not yet addressed the question raised by Johnson's appeal, but several other courts have considered the issue. In United States v. Blake, 88 F.3d 824 (9th Cir.1996), the Ninth Circuit held that the defendants' terms of supervised release commenced on the day they should have been released from prison pursuant to the retroactive application of a clarifying amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines, and not on the date of their actual release. Based on the language of § 3624(a) and on the "obvious purpose of leniency in applying the revised sentencing guidelines retroactively," the Blake Court read the statute as "setting the date of release, and consequently the commencement of a supervised release term, at the time a prisoner's term expires." Id. at 825. The First and Eighth Circuits have adopted a contrary approach. Relying on the language of § 3624(e) and on the different purposes of imprisonment and supervised release, they have held that supervised release commences on the date the offender is actually released from prison. See United States v. Joseph, 109 F.3d 34 (1st Cir.1997); United States v. Douglas, 88 F.3d 533 (8th Cir.1996) (per curiam).

In this case, we decline to follow the position advocated by the government and adopted by the First and Eighth Circuits in Joseph and Douglas. Read in isolation, the text of § 3624(e) appears to undercut Johnson's argument that he should receive credit for the extra time he spent in prison. However, the language of § 3624(e) must be considered in the context of the entire provision rather than in isolation. United States v. Brown, 536 F.2d 117, 121 (6th Cir.1976) ("[I]t is fundamental that a section of a statute should not be read in isolation from the context of the whole statute.") (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted); see also Third National Bank v. Impac Ltd., Inc., 432 U.S. 312, 320-21, 97 S.Ct. 2307, 53 L.Ed.2d 368 (1977). Reading § 3624(e) out of context would be particularly inappropriate in this case because it is clear that Congress did not consider the effect of the retroactive invalidation of sentences when it drafted the statute. Section 3624(a), which requires that a prisoner "be released by the Bureau of Prisons on the date of the expiration of the prisoner's term of imprisonment," embodies Congress's intent that a prisoner not be held in prison following the expiration of a valid prison term. Johnson was not released from prison until two and a half years after the valid portion of his prison term expired. In light of the policy underlying subsection (a), we hold that Johnson was not "imprisoned in connection with a conviction for a Federal ... crime" during these two and a half years because the conviction for which he was being held was invalid. Likewise, we conclude that the date of his "release" for purposes of the § 3624(a) was the date he was entitled to be released rather than the day he walked out the prison door.

The government maintains that while imprisonment serves primarily to punish and incapacitate the offender, "supervised release is intended to facilitate 'the integration of the violator into the community, while providing the supervision designed to limit further criminal conduct.' " Joseph, 109 F.3d at 38-39 (quoting U.S.S.G. Ch. 7, Pt. A4, p.s.). In light of these distinct purposes, it contends that there is no basis for crediting the extra time Johnson spent in prison toward his supervised release term. We agree that rehabilitation is a primary purpose of supervised release, but supervised release is also punitive in nature. See S.Rep. No. 98-225, 98th Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1984 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3182, 3306-08 (discussing purposes of supervised release); United States v. Gilchrist, 130 F.3d 1131, 1134 (3d Cir.1997) ("Supervised release is punishment; it is a deprivation of some portion of one's liberty imposed as a punitive measure for a bad act."), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 118 S.Ct. 1307, 140 L.Ed.2d 472 (1998). Indeed, we doubt that Johnson would have brought this appeal otherwise.

The government also contends that Johnson's claim is more appropriately directed to the District Court pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e), which authorizes the sentencing court to "terminate a term of supervised release and discharge the defendant released at any time after the expiration of one year of supervised release ... if it is satisfied that such action is warranted by the conduct of the defendant released and the interest of justice." See United States v. Spinelle, 41 F.3d 1056, 1060-61 (6th Cir.1994) (statute requiring district court to impose three-year term of supervised release did not deprive district court of separate authority under § 3583(e) to terminate supervised release after completion of one year). Under the circumstances, we decline to hold that § 3583(e) is the only avenue of relief available to Johnson. That provision would do him little good, since he might complete the remainder of his three-year term before the District Court considered such a motion.

For the reasons stated, we hold that Johnson's term of supervised release commenced at the end of the valid fifty-one month portion of his prison term. The judgment of the District Court...

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5 cases
  • Tobey v. U.S..
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • June 29, 2011
    ...served where supervised release begins and ends before the offender even reenters the community. See Johnson v. United States, 154 F.3d 569, 572 (6th Cir.1998) (Gilman, J., dissenting) (“[A] prisoner is not being reintegrated into society while still incarcerated.”). The mere fact that a pe......
  • U.S. v. Johnson
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    • March 1, 2000
    ...conditions, §3583(e)(2), or it may terminate his supervised release obligations after one year of completed service, §3583(e)(1). Pp. 3 7. 154 F.3d 569, reversed and Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Opinion of the Court NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revi......
  • Camacho v. Hood
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    • November 30, 2001
    ...actually released is entitled to have the extra time spent in confinement counted towards his supervised release. Johnson v. United States, 154 F.3d 569, 571-72 (6th Cir. 1998). The Supreme Court reversed, finding that the language of section 3624(a) does not alter the natural reading of se......
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