Watts v. Hadden, s. 80-1384

Decision Date11 June 1981
Docket NumberNos. 80-1384,80-1903,s. 80-1384
Citation651 F.2d 1354
PartiesJerry Wayne WATTS, et al, Appellees, v. John T. HADDEN, Warden, et al, Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit

William G. Otis, U. S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C. (William C. Bryson, U. S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., Clair Cripe, Bureau of Prisons, Washington, D.C., Michael A. Stover, Rockne J. Chickinell, U. S. Parole Commission, Washington, D.C., and Joseph F. Dolan, U. S. Atty., Denver, Colo., with him on the brief) for appellants.

Daniel J. Sears, Denver, Colo., for appellees.

Before McWILLIAMS, WILLIAM E. DOYLE and McKAY, Circuit Judges.

WILLIAM E. DOYLE, Circuit Judge.


In this case, the plaintiffs, who are inmates of the Federal Correctional Institute at Englewood, Colorado, have challenged the interpretation that the Bureau of Prisons has given to the Federal Youth Corrections Act, 18 U.S.C. § 5005, et seq., hereinafter called the YCA. There are eleven petitioners appellees who challenge the alleged failure of the United States Bureau of Prisons to observe the requirements of the Act. A similar challenge has been filed against the United States Parole Commission in Watts v. Hadden.

The issue in the present case is whether under the Act the inmates have to be segregated, such that all inmates within the institution, with perhaps minor exceptions, have to be persons who have been sentenced under the Youth Corrections Act. The Bureau of Prisons' position is that so long as they observe the treatment and training provisions of the Act, it is perfectly permissible for the Bureau to have older prisoners within the institution.

The petitions here were filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3), which is a federal habeas corpus statute. Each of the petitioners was confined at the Federal Correctional Institute at Englewood under YCA sentence. They alleged that they were not being segregated from adult offenders nor receiving treatment and supervision as required by the YCA.

A trial was held in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and on April 20, 1979 a memorandum opinion was issued by United States District Judge Richard Matsch. This opinion contains extensive findings of fact together with an interpretation of the YCA. See Watts v. Hadden, 469 F.Supp. 223 (D.Colo.1979). In general, the court concluded that the petitioners were being held in custody in violation of the YCA. But rather than ordering release from custody, the court directed the Bureau of Prisons defendants to submit a written plan which would implement the YCA as interpreted by the court.

The Bureau of Prisons plan called for classification and treatment of YCA offenders at the Englewood FCI. YCA offenders were to have segregated living quarters and segregated treatment programs. At all other times, YCA inmates would not be segregated from other inmates. Thus, the plan that was submitted by the Bureau of Prisons would have allowed integration of the institution itself apart from the living quarters, housing inmates who were not sentenced under the YCA.

On January 17, 1980, pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Fed.R.Civ.P., the trial court entered a final judgment with regard to the issues involving the Bureau of Prisons. The judgment of February 5, 1980, which is referred to as the amended judgment, declares that the plan submitted by the Bureau of Prisons is in compliance with the YCA, except that it does not provide for complete segregation of YCA offenders. The judgment directs respondents to place those petitioners still in prison in a facility designed and operated so as to separate them from non-YCA offenders. It is this judgment that the Bureau of Prisons has appealed and which is in question.

I. Objectives and Provisions of the Youth Corrections Act

The enactment of this Act by Congress occurred in 1950. Its purpose was to provide an alternative sentencing program for federal judges for persons who were under the age of 22 years. The intent was to promote rehabilitation of convicted youths believed to show promise of becoming useful citizens, and to thus "avoid the degenerative and needless transformation of many of these young persons into habitual criminals." 1 Congress, in the legislative history, showed that its view was that existing methods of treatment of criminally inclined youths were not solving the problem and that mixing of youth offenders with older criminals was resulting in criminalization of the young.

By herding youth with maturity, the novice with the sophisticate, the impressionable with the hardened, and by subjecting youth offenders to the evil influences of older criminals and their teaching of criminal techniques, without the inhibitions that come from normal contacts and counteracting prophylaxis, many of our penal institutions actively spread the infection of crime and foster, rather than check, it. 1950 U.S.Code Cong.Service 3983, 3985.

Thus a principal purpose, as expressed by the Congress, was the segregation of these youths from older criminals who can be characterized as hardened. In the YCA, Congress sought to address the problem with a comprehensive scheme of pre-sentencing study, sentencing options, individualized placement and treatment, and supervised release. There have been various amendments over the years which primarily touch upon administrative and organizational schemes. However, the basic provisions, including those here relevant, have remained unchanged. Under 18 U.S.C. § 5010, a judge sentencing an individual who is between 18 and 22 years of age has a number of sentencing options. The court may suspend sentence and place the youth offender on probation. § 5010(a). In lieu of any other sentence of imprisonment provided for an offense, the court may sentence the youth offender to an indeterminate sentence of up to four years confinement and up to two years on conditional release. §§ 5010(b) and 5017(c). It is undisputed that in some cases these provisions can and do result in youth offenders spending longer periods in confinement than they would have if sentenced as adults. 2 In the event that a term longer than six years is provided for the offense by another statute, the court may choose to sentence the youth to an indeterminate sentence for such longer period. §§ 5010(c) and 5017(d).

Under 18 U.S.C. § 5010(d) the court may sentence a youth offender under any other applicable penalty provisions, but only if the court finds that the youth will not benefit from treatment under the YCA. This is a finding which is to be expressly made on the record. Dorszynski v. United States, 418 U.S. 424, 94 S.Ct. 3042, 41 L.Ed.2d 855 (1974).

Offenders between 22 and 26 may be sentenced pursuant to the YCA, but only if the court finds reasonable grounds to believe the young adult offender will benefit from treatment provided by the Act. 18 U.S.C. § 4216 (formerly § 4209). Thus, in the statutes there is a strong thread that runs throughout the YCA that shows a legislative preference for sentencing under YCA for offenders under 22 years of age. While offenders older than 22 may be sentenced thereunder in special cases, it was not the preference of Congress that they be so sentenced as it was for the younger offenders. S.Rep.No.2013, 85th Cong., 2nd Sess., reprinted in (1958) U.S.Code Cong. and Ad.News 3891, 3892. Finally, § 5010(e) allows the court to commit the youth offender for study and observation in order to assist the court in determining whether treatment under the Act will prove beneficial.

After the pronouncement of sentence under the YCA, every offender must first be sent to a "classification center or agency" for a complete study and recommendation regarding treatment. 18 U.S.C. § 5014. On receipt of the recommendation, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons has three options. Conditional release under supervision can be recommended to the Parole Commission. Or, the Director may transfer the youth offender to an agency or institution for treatment. Finally, the Director may "order the committed youth offender confined and afforded treatment under such conditions he believes are best designed for the protection of the public." 18 U.S.C. § 5015(a). 18 U.S.C. § 5015(b) further permits the Director to "transfer at any time a committed youth offender from one agency or institution to any other agency or institution."

18 U.S.C. § 5006(f) defines treatment to mean "corrective and preventive guidance and training designed to protect the public by correcting the antisocial tendencies of youth offenders." 18 U.S.C. § 5011 is the central provision of the Act regarding treatment. It 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.

The Director is required to make periodic examinations and reports on committed youth offenders to the Parole Commission. 18 U.S.C. § 5016. The full Commission is charged with determining when and under what conditions a committed youth offender should be released. 18 U.S.C. §§ 5005, 5017.

The legislative history also reveals that the YCA scheme for sentencing, treatment and release was founded on two key sources of information. An "extensive and thorough" study of punishment for crime, which spanned several...

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