The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIRICA
This matter is before the Court on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
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
rather than under the Federal Youth Corrections Act.
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.
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.
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,
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,
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.
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].