3. Satisfactory Adjustment to the Adult Complex and Detriment to Emotional Stability Resulting From Transfer to the Youth Center.
The Classification Committee recommended that the defendant should remain at the adult complex because he has made a satisfactory adjustment and might be adversely affected by a transfer to the Youth Center since he would not be among his peers and his relatively long term confinement witnessing other inmates come and go could be emotionally discomforting.
As a legal justification for denying an eligible offender a YCA sentence this reasoning is dubious. Only if the Court finds that the defendant would not derive benefit from rehabilitative treatment under the YCA can it sentence him as an adult.
Satisfactory adjustment to an adult institution is logically irrelevant to this question.
Severe emotional maladjustment to a YCA commitment might be cause to find that an offender would not benefit from treatment under the Act, but such a judgment could be made only after a careful and realistic analysis of the offender's treatment needs and the degree to which they could be met by available YCA treatment alternatives,
and would have to stand up against the statutory presumption in favor of YCA sentencing.
This is not the kind of analysis which the 5010(e) reports have provided. The Classification Committee's conclusion that the defendant might have difficulty adjusting to the Youth Center is not a judgment that the defendant would not benefit from a YCA sentence, but rather that the failure of the Lorton Youth Center to segregate offenders according to their treatment needs, as the Center is required to do by the Act,
might be detrimental to the defendant. Any difficulty which the defendant might experience in adjusting to the Youth Center would be due, not to his lack of rehabilitative potential, but to the lack of facilities for long term treatment for offenders 22 years of age or older. Should it be determined that it is impractical or unfeasible to establish such a program at Lorton, the Court may inquire into the availability of an appropriate program at other youth centers.
Additionally, the Classification Committee has provided no underlying factual data to support its conclusions. Although it is possible that transfer to the Youth Center might adversely affect the defendant's emotional stability, it seems just as plausible that continued confinement at the adult complex would unnecessarily expose the defendant to more hardened criminal types, in violation of the intent of the Act, and would negatively affect his emotional stability because of the knowledge that no matter how well he performs he must remain confined for 20 years. Not only did the Classification Committee fail to address these questions, but they did not consult with the defendant to determine directly what his feelings would be about transfer.
The present state of the record in this area, therefore, would not support a judgment sentencing the defendant as an adult.
4. Prior Record of Aggressive Behavior.
In the original 5010(e) study the Classification Committee, after examining the defendant's prior criminal record, concluded that the defendant's increasing involvement in aggressive antisocial acts rendered him too assaultive to be placed in the Youth Center, which could not provide a sufficiently structured environment for him.
Since the YCA expressly provides for maximum security treatment facilities and segregation of offenders according to their needs for treatment, the Committee's recommendation again seems to have been premised on the Youth Center's lack of required treatment facilities rather than on the defendant's capacity to benefit from treatment. Although it would have been permissible and desirable for the Committee to have attempted to relate the defendant's prior behavior to the existence of character traits relevant to rehabilitative potential, such as incorrigibility or attitude towards rehabilitation, it did not do this, and the Court took the analysis no further. The entire argument was abandoned in the updated 5010(e) studies of August 17, 1973 and November 30, 1973 which reported that the defendant had adjusted well, was neither hostile, aggressive nor assaultive, and presented no behavior problem.
It was thought, however, that the root causes of the defendant's prior criminal acts had not been adequately treated. Thus the record reflects that the original finding that the defendant would not benefit from a YCA commitment because of his prior record of aggressive behavior was legally and, in hindsight, factually erroneous. The defendant's manifestations of criminal behavior appear to be controllable and very possibly remediable through proper rehabilitative treatment.
The principal reasons cited in the original 5010(e) report and relied upon by the Court for sentencing the defendant as an adult, and the reasons subsequently established in the August 17, 1973 Addendum and November 30, 1973 Supplement, are insufficient to support a finding that the defendant would not benefit from rehabilitative treatment under the YCA. Accordingly, it is suggested that this case be remanded to permit the Court to vacate the prior illegal sentence which it entered and to reconsider the eligibility of the defendant for a YCA sentence. On remand the Court contemplates the issuance of guidelines and instructions to the Lorton Youth Center classification or diagnostic unit to insure that future 5010(e) reports will contain information which is legally and factually relevant to the question of whether an offender would derive benefit from rehabilitative treatment under the YCA.
The need for guidelines of this type has been made clear. The several 5010(e) reports, the testimony of the members of the Classification Committee and correctional officials, and the responses to the Court's questionnaire, demonstrate that the 5010(e) study and observation process at the Lorton Youth Center is marred by a lack of understanding of the kind of information which the courts need to make informed and proper YCA sentencing judgments. Some of the inadequacies in the process may be apparent from the discussion above, and a more complete catalogue has been compiled by the amici curiae.43 As a result of these deficiencies many eligible youth offenders such as the defendant may have been improperly denied YCA treatment and the possibility of rehabilitation, to the benefit of neither themselves nor society.
Closer communication and cooperation between the courts and correctional personnel in these areas is necessary to ensure that YCA sentencing decisions conform to the congressional design.