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Seventh Circuit Affirms Imprisonment Does Not Promote Correction and Rehabilitation

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the above-guidelines sentence wherein the sentencing judge stated he wanted the defendant to "get mental health treatment." In so ruling, the Seventh Circuit followed the case of Tapia v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2382 (2011), which stated that "imprisonment is not an appropriate means of promoting correction and rehabilitation." 18 U.S.C. Sect. 3582(a) requires a sentencing judge to not increase the length of the defendant's prison term in order to facilitate the defendant's rehabilitation or correction.

Kubeczko had pleaded guilty to mail fraud in cashing his deceased mother's benefit checks from the Civil Service Retirement Fund. His guidelines sentencing range was 21 to 27 months, but the judge sentenced him to 30 months.

At sentencing he had already served 10 months in pre-trial detention, so that he would have been released in 17 months. Instead, the judge sentenced him to 30 months, because she believed he needed treatment "for mental illness and alcohol dependence, which would require at least 18 months. Defendant had conceded he suffers from mental illness and alcohol dependence.”

In vacating and remanding the District Court's decision, the Appellate Court noted that had she indicated that the sentence was handed down to prevent the defendant from committing new crimes, it would have been appropriate. United States v. Lawrence, 402 Fed.App 699 (3d Cir. 2010). It also noted that the court still had the option to civilly commit the defendant if he still suffered from a serious mental illness at the end of the appropriate sentence. See: United States v. Kubeczko, 660 F.3d 260 (7th Cir. 2011).

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Related legal case

United States v. Kubeczko