835 F.2d 1195, 1987 U.S. App. 16817.
Notes: The professor will probably focus on policy on this case. It is an early criminal law case in which the idea of deterrence is discussed.
FACTS -The Defendant had been serving a sentence of imprisonment for the robbery of two banks.
-Thirty minutes after his release from prison, he committed another bank robbery.
-D was back in jail before sundown on his day of release.
-The District Court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole under a statue forbidding the possession of weapons by career criminals, and the Defendant appealed on the ground that the statute permitted a sentence of a determinate number of years but not a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
ISSUE Did the Court properly sentence the Defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole?
HOLDING Yes. Affirmed.
-Specific deterrence had failed for this Defendant.
-The Court was therefore permitted to consider general deterrence and incapacitation.
-The statute under which the D was sentenced did not have a stated maximum sentence. However, life imprisonment without parole and a long term of imprisonment serve the same purpose since the Defendant was 35 years of age at the time of the crime.
-To read the statute as authorizing a long term of imprisonment measured in a number of years but not a life sentence is absurd.
-The Defendant’s sentence was not inappropriate.
RULES -The imposition of life imprisonment for a career criminal is permissible.
ANALYSIS-The principles of deterrence and incapacitation permit imprisoning a repeat offender for life.
-The Defendant should not be imprisoned for life.
-A 20-year prison sentence will adequately serve the aim of deterrence, because a 55-year-old man is unlikely to commit robbery.