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UNITED STATES v. WARD

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


November 17, 1971

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Reuben T. WARD

Sirica, Chief Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIRICA

MEMORANDUM

SIRICA, Chief Judge.

 This matter is before the Court on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia *fn1" for the purpose of clarifying the reasons given at the original sentencing proceeding for choosing to sentence the defendant Ward under the applicable penalty provision *fn2" rather than under the Federal Youth Corrections Act. *fn3"

 The defendant, Reuben T. Ward, entered a plea of guilty in this Court to a count charging robbery following a three-week trial with a co-defendant on charges of felony-murder, second-degree murder, armed robbery and robbery which ended in a hung jury. Although he insisted he was innocent, the defendant pleaded guilty to the robbery charge to avoid the risk of another trial for murder, under the authority of North Carolina v. Alford. *fn4"

 At the sentencing hearing held on July 16, 1971, the Court made the following statement:

 

Defendant Ward is now 21 years of age. As a juvenile, complaints for drunk and robbery were lodged against him. As an adult he was placed on probation for attempted procuring, and in fact he was on probation at the time of the present offense which occurred in February of 1970. Although he has had several arrests, the only convictions I have in the probation report: in December 1967 for being drunk he was placed on probation for an indeterminate period of time. December 1969, for robbery, he was committed to the custody of the Department of Public Welfare for an indeterminate period of time. As an adult, in July 1969, for attempted procuring, execution of one year sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for two years. Probation is to expire on 9/10/71. Then on 9/10/69, I believe, for disorderly conduct he was fined $18.00.

 

Now the victim of the robbery in the instant offense was killed under circumstances surrounding the offense which were therefore of a very serious nature. Defendant Ward has apparently been on drugs for sometime. He is not eligible under NARA because the offense was a crime of violence. His choice of companions and activities has been such that he can be characterized as having street corner sophistication. In the Court's opinion, the defendant Ward requires a program of discipline, guidance and control firmer and more strict than provided by the Youth Correction, or Youth Act commitment. The Court will therefore sentence him under the applicable penalty provision rather than under the Youth Corrections Act.

 The Court then imposed a sentence of four to twelve years under the robbery count, and added:

 

The Court will recommend through the probation officer and then to the Director of Prisons that this young man be sent to an institution where they usually send youth offenders such as Petersburg, Virginia, or some institution of that type. *fn5"

  After a careful review of all materials available to it at the time of sentencing in connection with this case, *fn6" the Court believes now, as it did on the day of sentencing, that this particular defendant, Reuben T. Ward, will not benefit from treatment under the Federal Youth Corrections Act. *fn7" The reasons for this conclusion given at the sentencing hearing and elaborated upon in this memorandum shall constitute an affirmative finding to that effect.

 In recommending that the Director of the Bureau of Prisons consider confining the defendant at Petersburg, Virginia, or a similar institution, the Court did not intend to implicitly find that the defendant would benefit from treatment under the Youth Corrections Act. Rather, the Court has made it a practice in many cases, when it has determined that a defendant would not benefit from Youth Act treatment, to recommend confinement in an institution best suited to handle persons of that age group. It seems consistent to find against treatability under the Act, yet recommend the best possible institution for incarceration under the adult penalty provision.

 While technically eligible for commitment under the Youth Corrections Act, *fn8" this defendant's prior experience with youth-oriented rehabilitative programs indicates that he would not benefit from commitment to another such program under the Act. An analysis of the defendant's record, *fn9" both as a juvenile and as an adult, in the four years prior to the offense in the instant case, reveals a number of contacts with the authorities and a fairly continuous involvement in programs designed to assist him in making a proper social adjustment, including commitment to the Department of Public Welfare's Children's Center and juvenile probation. Not only is the length of time which the defendant spent in the various programs noteworthy for our purposes here, but the number of times he was committed also indicates a certain dilution of the effect of a youth offender program upon this defendant. Significantly, the defendant was arrested for the very serious charges in the instant case while he was on probation for another charge seven months earlier. *fn10"

 Defendant Ward was initially committed to the Department of Public Welfare in 1966, recommitted to the Department in 1968, and recommitted once more in September of 1969, five months before the offense in this case. Actually, he was concurrently committed to the Department of Public Welfare and on probation when the instant offense occurred. Shortly after this offense, the Social Worker at the Children's Center, a person who would certainly have more than a superficial knowledge of Ward's case history, recommended that his commitment to the Department be set aside. In making the recommendation, she remarked:

 

Rubin [ sic ] has failed to respond to or cooperate with our supervision of him. He has moved from his family and shows resistance of their efforts to assist him. He is on probation for two years following a charge heard before an adult court [attempted procuring, July 1969]. He is currently detained, awaiting trial on another offense in adult court [the charges in the instant case]. *fn11"

  The Court does not question the need of this defendant for a program of guidance and control directing him toward permanent improvement. However, the nature of the most recent offenses of this defendant, his choice of companions and his response toward commitment to the Department of Public Welfare and probation does not suggest Youth Act commitment as the proper method of dealing with his situation. On the contrary, his criminal behavior as demonstrated in the previous offense of attempted procuring and the involvement in the offense here, exhibits a certain sophistication which weighs against his commitment under the Youth Corrections Act.

 In December of 1970, Mr. M. R. Montilla, the Acting Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, replied to the inquiry of Judge Gerhard A. Gesell of this court as to what type of defendant, eligible agewise, was considered most desirable, what type undesirable, for treatment under the Act:

 

Defendants whose criminal activity has apparently resulted from an inability to attain desired ends because of a lack of economic, educational or social opportunity -- but whose aberrant behavior is not firmly entrenched -- are most suitable to the Youth Center program. On the other hand, those whose criminality is the result of serious psychological aberrations, those who are criminally sophisticated and those who will require long-term incarceration are considered undesirable for commitment under the Act. * * * *fn12"

 

(Emphasis added.)

 This Court believes that commitment of this particular defendant to treatment under the Federal Youth Corrections Act would be ill-suited to his needs and violative of the rights of other members of the community who certainly might expect that their interests also be served by the Court's judgment and commitment. Our unfortunate experience has been that Youth Act defendants are too often returned to society prematurely from a rehabilitative program not designed for their particular type or degree of criminal conduct with a resulting resumption of their aberrant behavior.

 APPENDIX

 Included herein are materials which were available to the Court, in addition to the Presentence Report, at the time of the sentencing proceeding.

 

I. Reuben T. Ward -- Juvenile Court Probation File (Summary)

 

II. Request for Set Aside of Commitment, submitted by Betty A. Mack, Social Worker, Children's Center, dated February 25, 1970.

 

III. Letter of Honorable Gerhard A. Gesell, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to Mr. Kenneth L. Hardy, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, December 4, 1970.

 

IV. Letter of M. R. Montilla, Acting Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections to the Honorable Gerhard A. Gesell, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, December 29, 1970.

  Reuben T. Ward

 Juvenile Court Probation File

 9/23/61-1 p.m. -- Zoo Park -- Unlawful Entry -- Filed by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 3/10/64-10:45 a.m. -- Zoo Park -- Truant -- Filed by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 7/25/64-4 p.m. -- 3500 Williamsburgh Lane, N.W. -- Petit Larceny -- Warned by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 4/5/65-1:45 a.m. -- 2400 blk Lawrence St., N.E. -- Anti-Loitering -- Indexed by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 5/24/65-11:30 a.m. -- 2000 Florida Ave. -- Truant -- Filed by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 Same date-2:42 p.m. -- 3330 Garfield St., N.W. -- Truant -- Retained by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 4/15/65-Truancy

 5/17/65-Continued subject to call of P.O. for disposition.

 6/20/65-7:55 p.m. -- 12th and S St., N.W. -- Apprehended on roof of school -- Indexed by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 1/24/66-Committed to Department of Public Welfare for indeterminate period.

 1/9/67-Commitment set aside.

 5/9/67-3:15 p.m. -- 7th & R.I. Ave. N.W. -- Disorderly -- Filed by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 9/28/67-1:30 a.m. -- 1900 blk 14th St., N.W. -- Anti-Loitering -- Filed by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 10/10/67-3 a.m. -- 3558 13th St., N.W. -- Anti-Loitering -- Filed by Youth Division, M.P.D.

 11/1/67-2:15 a.m. -- 17th and Corcoran St., N.W. -- Drunk & Disorderly (cursing & swearing). Petitioned 11/3/67 -- Case closed without a finding 3/19/68.

 12/14/67-11:58 p.m. -- 1701 V St., N.W. -- Drunk & Disorderly (cursing & swearing). Petitioned 12/18/67.

 12/20/67-placed on probation for indeterminate period of time.

 1/28/68-8 p.m. -- 2400 blk 14th St., N.W. -- Assault (Simple) -- Assaulted Gwendolyn Robinson -- N/F/14 -- Not petitioned 3/26/68.

 2/28/68-2:15 p.m. -- Robbery (F & V) -- 1107 11th St., N.W. -- With group of 8 beat and robbed Warren W. Schlafke W/M/39 of $90.00 and who was treated at Washington Hospital Center for cuts and bruises about face and body.

 3/19/68-Recommitted to Department of Public Welfare.

 12/20/68-placed on probation.

 9/5/69-Commitment to Department of Public Welfare continued for indeterminate period.

 3/18/70-Commitment set aside and discharged from jurisdiction of Court. REQUEST FOR SET ASIDE OF COMMITMENT DATE OF COMMITMENT: 3-19-68 JC#: 67-3977-J CWD#: T-34-669.2 NAME OF CHILD: Rubin T. Ward AKA Reuben Tyler Ward BORN: 5-2-50 RACE: Negro FATHER: Maurice Ward ADDRESS: Deceased MOTHER: Lorraine Johnson ADDRESS: 4508 Quarles St., N.E. STEP-FATHER: William Johnson ADDRESS: 4508 Quarles St., N.E. DATE OF LAST CONTACT AND WITH WHOM: 1-26-70, mother. COURT HISTORY: 1-24-66- Committed to the Department of Public Welfare for an indeterminate period. 1-9-67- Commitment set aside. 3-19-68- Recommitted to the Department of Public Welfare for an indeterminate period. 9-5-69- Commitment continued for an indeterminate period.

19711117

© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.



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