MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.
We granted certiorari, 414 U.S. 1091 (1973), to resolve a conflict in the Circuits concerning whether, in sentencing a youth offender under other applicable penal statutes, § 5010 (d) of the Federal Youth Corrections Act, 18 U. S. C. § 5005 et seq., requires a federal district court first to make an explicit finding, supported by reasons on the record, that the offender would not benefit from treatment under subsection (b) or (c) of § 5010. The Court of Appeals held that such a finding may be implied from the record, 484 F.2d 849 (CA7 1973). Three Circuits have taken that position,
On October 19, 1971, a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs made arrangements with petitioner's codefendant, whose case is not before this Court, to purchase approximately 1,000 tablets of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) the following day. At the appointed hour on October 20, 1971, the undercover agent was shown approximately 1,000 LSD tablets in the possession of petitioner's codefendant, who transferred the tablets to the agent. The exhibition and transfer took place in an automobile being driven by petitioner. After the tablets were transferred to the agent but before money had changed hands, petitioner and his codefendant were arrested. The complaint upon which the arrest warrant for petitioner issued charged him with knowingly and intentionally possessing approximately 1,000 tablets of LSD, in violation of 18 U. S. C. § 2 and 21 U. S. C. § 844 (a).
On February 14, 1972, proceedings were had in the District Court upon the filing of an information, arraignment,
On May 1, 1972, after having filed numerous other post-conviction motions for relief, petitioner filed the motion at issue here, seeking relief pursuant to Fed. Rules Crim. Proc. 32 (d) and 35, and 28 U. S. C. § 2255, on two grounds. The first alleged that his guilty plea was not made understandingly; that issue is not before us. See n. 5, supra. The second alleged that the District Court was without jurisdiction to impose the sentence given because the court failed to make a finding that petitioner would not derive benefit from treatment under § 5010 (b) or (c), as assertedly required by § 5010 (d). See n. 4, supra. The District Court held an evidentiary hearing to consider this motion, as well as other motions pending at that time. All were denied without opinion. The District Court stated at the post-conviction
The Court of Appeals affirmed, rejecting the view that trial judges must make an explicit finding that youth offenders would not benefit from treatment under the Act. The Court of Appeals held that such a determination may be implied from the record as a whole and that the imposition of the split sentence upon petitioner after his counsel had raised the possibility of sentencing under that Act satisfied § 5010 (d). 484 F. 2d, at 851.
The Federal Youth Corrections Act
The sole issue in this case is the validity of the sentence imposed by the District Court. Petitioner contends that before any adult sentence may be imposed § 5010 (d) requires, first, that the sentencing judge find explicitly that the convicted defendant would receive no benefit from treatment under the Act and, second, that the sentencing judge must explain the reasons for his finding. We begin with the general proposition that once it is determined that a sentence is within the limitations set forth in the statute under which it is imposed, appellate review is at an end.
The Federal Youth Corrections Act has been accurately described as the most comprehensive federal statute concerned with sentencing. United States v. Coefield, 155 U. S. App. D. C. 205, 209, 476 F.2d 1152, 1156 (1973). The Act is in substantial part an outgrowth of recommendations made by the Judicial Conference of the United States more than 30 years ago.
To accomplish this objective, federal district judges were given two new alternatives to add to the array of sentencing options previously available to them, see n. 9, infra: first, they were enabled to commit an eligible offender to the custody of the Attorney General for treatment under the Act. 18 U. S. C. §§ 5010 (b) and (c). Second, if they believed an offender did not need commitment, they were authorized to place him on probation under the Act. 18 U. S. C. § 5010 (a). If the sentencing court chose the first alternative, the youth offender would be committed to the program of treatment created by the Act.
The objective of these options represented a departure from traditional sentencing, and focused primarily on correction and rehabilitation. All persons under 22 years of age at the time of conviction were made eligible for probation or treatment under the Act,
An important element of the program was that once a person was committed for treatment under the Act, the execution of sentence was to fit the person, not the crime for which he was convicted. Classification agencies were to be established by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to receive and study the person committed and make recommendations to the Director as to appropriate treatment. 18 U. S. C. §§ 5014, 5015. Further, the range of treatment available was made broad to provide maximum flexibility. The Director was authorized both to adapt numerous public facilities, and to contract with public or private agencies, in order to provide institutional treatment which the Director could vary according to the committed person's progress or lack of it. 18 U. S. C. §§ 5011, 5015. An integral part of the treatment program was the segregation of the committed persons, insofar as practicable, so as to place them with those similarly committed, to avoid the influence of association with the more hardened inmates serving traditional criminal sentences. 18 U. S. C. § 5011.
In addition to institutional treatment, the Division was empowered to order conditional release under supervision at any time of those committed under the Act, with federal
The foregoing describes the new options of treatment and probation made available to the federal sentencing court under the Act.
Sentencing Discretion Under the Act
The language affecting the sentencing role of the judge under the Act is found in § 5010 (d), which tells us:
Our concern is with the effect of the requirement of a "no benefit" finding on the judge's sentencing discretion.
The legislative history clearly indicates that the Act was meant to enlarge, not restrict, the sentencing options of federal trial courts in order to permit them to sentence youth offenders for rehabilitation of a special sort.
Thus, apart from the discretion vested in administrative agencies for treatment of those committed under the Act, as described in Part II, the Act was intended to broaden the scope of judicial sentencing discretion to include the alternatives of treatment or probation thereunder.
The Act was a product of studies made by a committee of federal judges under the auspices of the Judicial Conference of the United States. The views of the sponsors as to the effect of the Act on the sentencing discretion of the trial courts are thus of particular importance, and they uniformly support the view that the Act was intended to preserve the unfettered sentencing discretion of federal district judges. Most pertinent is the statement made by the Chairman of the Judicial Conference special committee appointed to study punishment for crime, see n. 8, supra, Chief Judge John J. Parker, who testified before the Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducted the only hearings held on the bill (S. 2609) enacted as the Federal Youth Corrections Act. Judge Parker stated:
To the same effect is the statement made by Circuit Judge Orie L. Phillips, the Chairman of the Conference subcommittee which gave particular attention to the treatment of youth offenders. See n. 8, supra. In response to the statement of Senator Kilgore, sponsor of S. 2609, that the bill "takes nothing" (in terms of sentencing) "away from the court," Judge Phillips replied: "That is correct; it is purely optional." Hearings 69. Earlier Judge Phillips had said of the bill: "That is merely a flexibility and it is not a command that he send the boys up," to which Senator Kilgore replied: "I agree with you on that . . . ." Id., at 67. To the extent other testimony and the debates addressed the question of sentencing discretion under the Act, they in-invariably reflected the same view,
To construe § 5010 (d)'s requirement of a "no benefit" finding to circumscribe that discretion would be incompatible with a clear congressional intent; such a construction would also be at odds with traditional sentencing doctrine. The intent of Congress was in accord with long-established authority in the United States vesting the sentencing function exclusively in the trial court.
The statutes referred to in this line of cases established a permissible range within which sentences could be imposed; if a judge imposed a sentence within that range, his exercise of discretion as to where within the permissible range sentence should be fixed was not subject to challenge. The authority to sentence a youth offender under "any other applicable penalty provision" is expressly reserved to federal trial courts by § 5010 (d), and thus is within the permissible range of sentences which may be imposed under the Act. The "no benefit" finding required by the Act is not to be read as a substantive standard which must be satisfied to support a sentence outside the Act, for such a reading would subject the sentence to appellate review even though the sentence was permitted by the Act's terms, thereby limiting the sentencing court's discretion. We will not assume Congress to have intended such a departure from wellestablished doctrine without a clear expression to disavow it. As our review has shown, the exclusive sentencing power of district judges was acknowledged, and Congress' intention to affirm that power was clearly indicated.
From our conclusion that a finding of "no benefit" was not intended to constitute a substantive standard, it follows that a sentence outside the Act need not be accompanied by a statement of reasons why the court chose such a sentence. The only purpose of such a requirement would be to facilitate appellate supervision of, and thus to
Although the Act was not in any way intended to circumscribe the discretion of sentencing courts, it did provide a new sentencing alternative designed to prevent youthful offenders from continuing their involvement in criminal conduct after the expiration of their sentence. In the novelty of the treatment option made available, and the importance of the objective it was to serve, lies the purpose of § 5010 (d)'s requirement that the court find "no benefit" before imposing a sentence other than one under § 5010 (b) or (c).
Once it is made clear that the sentencing judge has considered the option of treatment under the Act and rejected it, however, no appellate review is warranted.
The question whether the finding of "no benefit" must be explicit or whether it may be implicit in the record of a particular case is answered by the manifest desire of Congress to assure that treatment under the Act be considered by the court as one option whenever the youth offender is eligible for it. If the finding may be implied
This case provides an example of the problems arising when the required finding is left to implication. Counsel's references to the Act followed by the District Court's sentence indeed afford support for the argument that, by implication, the options of the Act were considered and rejected. However at the post-conviction hearing the District Court found from the record of the sentencing hearing the implication that the Act was "not applicable." It is thus unclear whether this meant the court believed petitioner to be legally ineligible for treatment under the Act—which would be error—or whether, realizing he was eligible, nevertheless deliberately opted to sentence him as an adult. An explicit finding that petitioner would not have benefited from treatment under the Act would have removed all doubt concerning whether the enlarged discretion Congress provided to sentencing courts was indeed exercised.
Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded to the end that the
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, with whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, and MR. JUSTICE STEWART join, concurring in the judgment.
The Court is today called upon to construe the provision of the Federal Youth Corrections Act, 18 U. S. C. § 5005 et seq., defining the circumstances under which a youth offender may be sentenced as an adult. The Youth Corrections Act (YCA) provides a comprehensive sentencing scheme for offenders between the ages of 18 and 22, affording trial judges four options for sentencing such offenders. The judge may suspend imposition or execution of sentence and place the offender on probation. 18 U. S. C. § 5010 (a). Alternatively, the judge may sentence the offender for treatment and supervision at a special youth facility, to be discharged in no more than 6 years, 18 U. S. C. § 5010 (b), or he may commit the offender to a youth institution for a term which may exceed 6 years, up to the maximum period authorized by law for the offense. 18 U. S. C. § 5010 (c).
I agree with the Court's holding that § 5010 (d) requires an explicit finding of "no benefit" as a condition precedent to sentencing an eligible offender as an adult,
I am convinced that the Act was meant to "provide a preferred sentencing alternative which must be used in sentencing a youthful offender unless, in the language of § 5010 (d), `the court shall find that the youth offender will not derive benefit from treatment . . .' " under the Act. Cox v. United States, 473 F.2d 334, 337 (CA4 1973) (en banc) (emphasis added). And, I fundamentally disagree with the Court's holding that merely by tracking the statutory "no benefit" language a sentencing judge can satisfy the "finding" requirement of § 5010 (d). I would require that the explicit "no benefit" finding be augmented by a statement of the reasons for imposing an adult sentence.
I find no basis in either the language or history of the YCA to support the Court's observation that the Act was intended to "preserve unfettered" the discretion of the sentencing judge. Ante, at 437. The YCA was the product of more than 10 years of study by various groups and was modeled after the English Borstal system, which had achieved substantial success in rehabilitating young offenders.
But even the very first Judicial Conference proposal contained a provision specifically requiring the trial judge to make a finding that a youth offender would not benefit from treatment and should not be committed under the Act, before sentencing him under any other penalty provisions.
The finding requirement is an integral part of the YCA scheme. The stated premise of the Act is that young people between the ages of 18 and 22, especially, are promising subjects for rehabilitation.
The Senate Report accompanying the bill explained the circumstances under which adult sentencing would be proper:
Other aspects of the legislative history underscore Congress' intention that the Act provide a preferred sentencing alternative for eligible offenders. Senator Kilgore, one of the sponsors of the legislation, observed that given the requisite finding "only about 10 percent of [eligible
This congressional intent finds clear expression in the words of the statute. Section 5010 (d) does not say the sentencing court must merely consider the treatment option provided by the Act; it says in the most uncompromising terms that the court must find the youth "will not benefit" from YCA treatment as a prerequisite to imposing an adult sentence. The use of the words "shall find" emphasizes the mandatory nature of that finding. The specific quality of the finding is underscored by § 5010 (e) which provides for an eligible offender to be temporarily committed for observation and study for the purpose of providing the sentencing court with a report on the particular question defined by § 5010 (d)— whether the youth offender would benefit from treatment under the Act.
In a sense, the Court today also recognizes the inherent limitation on the judge's discretion imposed by § 5010 (d) by requiring an explicit "no benefit" finding as a prerequisite to adult sentencing. As conceived by the Court, however, the required "no benefit" finding is no finding at all, but merely a ritualistic invocation of the statutory language. In explaining why the "no benefit" finding
If the Court were to hold that the Act limited a trial judge's discretion by requiring that he actually find a youth offender would not benefit from YCA treatment before sentencing him as an adult, I would think that more than a mere recitation of the conclusory finding of "no benefit" should be required. To say that simply invoking the words of the statute satisfies the mandate of § 5010 (d) affords far too little credence both to Congress' deep concern for the rehabilitative potential of young offenders and to its obvious intention that eligible offenders be sentenced under the Act if they would benefit from its rehabilitative programs. To give effect to these concerns, I would require that the trial judge include, on the
The mere recitation of the "no benefit" litany can hardly bear the weight of demonstrating such compliance. By taking the unusual step of requiring a specific finding in this limited but highly important area of sentencing, Congress mandated a reasoned determination that the offender would not benefit from the rehabilitative treatment available under the Act. Accordingly, in my view, a statement of the factors which informed and shaped the sentencing decision must accompany the conclusory finding of "no benefit" if that congressional purpose is to be served.
The Borstal system, which provided the model for the youth corrections scheme in general and the requirement of § 5010 (d) in particular, envisions a trial judge stating his reasons for sentencing an eligible offender as an adult.
The reasons may also be of use to correctional authorities in their handling of the prisoner after sentence. The kind of correctional and rehabilitative treatment an offender receives should take into account the reasons for his sentence.
A disclosure of reasons may also aid the defendant's counsel to insure that the sentence is not premised on misinformation or inaccuracies in the material upon which the sentencing judge relies. "A Sphinx-like silence on the court's part precludes anyone (including the parties, [and] the judge . . .) from learning whether he acted in error." Id., at 1173; cf. United States v. Tucker, 404 U.S. 443 (1972).
If reasons were articulated for the sentencing decision, an offender would be less apt to perceive his fate as being arbitrarily determined.
Although these considerations apply to sentencing decisions generally,
Section 5010 (e) of the Act provides a mechanism for the trial judge to secure the expert assistance of correctional authorities in determining whether an eligible offender would benefit from treatment. I agree with the two Courts of Appeals which have passed on the issue that:
Accord, United States v. Coefield, 155 U. S. App. D. C., at 210, 476 F. 2d, at 1157. But the Act clearly intended that the ultimate sentencing decision remain with the trial judge. That decision should not pass by abdication to the correctional authorities who prepare the § 5010 (e) study. Thus, where a trial judge secures a § 5010 (e) report, he should adopt its reasons as his own only after assuring himself of the adequacy of the report and propriety of its recommendation.
I see no reason to reach here the issue of appellate review of the District Court's imposition of an adult sentence. I believe that the Youth Corrections Act provides a preferred-sentencing alternative which can only be abandoned on the basis of a finding that an eligible offender will not benefit from treatment under the Act. The District Court imposed sentence on the assumption that the YCA was not a preferred disposition and no finding was required. The Court today finds the District Court's sentence invalid only for failure to make the required "no benefit" finding. Under either the Court's view or my own, the appellate-review question is clearly not yet presented by this case.
Accordingly, I concur in the judgment of the Court insofar as it reverses and remands because the District Court failed to make the requisite "no benefit" finding. I disagree, however, with the opinion of the Court insofar
"(a) If the court is of the opinion that the youth offender does not need commitment, it may suspend the imposition or execution of sentence and place the youth offender on probation.
"(b) If the court shall find that a convicted person is a youth offender, and the offense is punishable by imprisonment under applicable provisions of law other than this subsection, the court may, in lieu of the penalty of imprisonment otherwise provided by law, sentence the youth offender to the custody of the Attorney General for treatment and supervision pursuant to this chapter until discharged by the Division as provided in section 5017 (c) of this chapter; or
"(c) If the court shall find that the youth offender may not be able to derive maximum benefit from treatment by the Division prior to the expiration of six years from the date of conviction it may, in lieu of the penalty of imprisonment otherwise provided by law, sentence the youth offender to the custody of the Attorney General for treatment and supervision pursuant to this chapter for any further period that may be authorized by law for the offense or offenses of which he stands convicted or until discharged by the Division as provided in section 5017 (d) of this chapter.
"(d) If the court shall find that the youth offender will not derive benefit from treatment under subsection (b) or (c), then the court may sentence the youth offender under any other applicable penalty provision.
"(e) If the Court desires additional information as to whether a youth offender will derive benefit from treatment under subsection (b) or (c) it may order that he be committed to the custody of the Attorney General for observation and study at an appropriate classification center or agency. Within sixty days from the date of the order, or such additional period as the court may grant, the Division shall report to the court its findings."
The release of youth offenders committed under § 5010 is governed by 18 U. S. C. § 5017, which provides in part:
"(a) The Division may at any time after reasonable notice to the Director release conditionally under supervision a committed youth offender. When, in the judgment of the Director, a committed youth offender should be released conditionally under supervision he shall so report and recommend to the Division.
"(b) The Division may discharge a committed youth offender unconditionally at the expiration of one year from the date of conditional release.
"(c) A youth offender committed under section 5010 (b) of this chapter shall be released conditionally under supervision on or before the expiration of four years from the date of his conviction and shall be discharged unconditionally on or before six years from the date of his conviction.
"(d) A youth offender committed under section 5010 (c) of this chapter shall be released conditionally under supervision not later than two years before the expiration of the term imposed by the court. He may be discharged unconditionally at the expiration of not less than one year from the date of his conditional release. He shall be discharged unconditionally on or before the expiration of the maximum sentence imposed, computed uninterruptedly from the date of conviction."
"(a) Upon the unconditional discharge by the division of a committed youth offender before the expiration of the maximum sentence imposed upon him, the conviction shall be automatically set aside and the division shall issue to the youth offender a certificate to that effect.
"(b) Where a youth offender has been placed on probation by the court, the court may thereafter, in its discretion, unconditionally discharge such youth offender from probation prior to the expiration of the maximum period of probation theretofore fixed by the court, which discharge shall automatically set aside the conviction, and the court shall issue to the youth offender a certificate to that effect."
Despite the expiration of petitioner's sentence, then, he may still receive the benefit of 18 U. S. C. § 5021 if he is resentenced under the Act. To be eligible to have his conviction set aside under the Act, petitioner would have to be committed under § 5010 (b) or (c), or placed on probation under § 5010 (a), and achieve the early discharge required by § 5021 (a) or (b). While this might require the imposition of a longer sentence than he originally received, petitioner represents through counsel that he would voluntarily seek resentencing which would place him back on probation. Tr. of Oral Arg. 8, 16-18. The District Court would then be able, as a matter of discretion, to provide the requisite early unconditional discharge. 18 U. S. C. § 5021 (b).
"I think when the judges say they are opposed to the predecessor of this bill, if you could talk with them, you would find that . . . they would not themselves want to use it. Very well, they do not have to use it." Hearings 57.
District Judge Bolitha J. Laws, who served on the Conference special committee studying general punishment for crime, stated:
"I have already told you that this law is purely an optional situation. A judge who feels that the present system is in all respects perfect and who does not want to use the new provisions, except perhaps rarely, does not have to use them. He still may do one of two things. He may admit the man to probation, or he may send him to an institution exactly as he does now." Id., at 15.
Mr. James V. Bennett, Director, Bureau of Prisons, testified similarly:
"I would like to . . . reemphasize more than Judge Laws has done, that this bill is discretionary . . . . [I]t is very difficult for me to conceive of anybody who could rightfully object to the bill because they can use it or not, as they see fit . . . ." Id., at 25.
During the Senate debate over the bill, Senator Kilgore made clear his position of the matter of sentencing discretion under the bill:
"Its purpose is to grant to trial courts . . . some additional facilities. . . to try certain correctional methods. Use of the system provided by this measure would not be mandatory." 96 Cong. Rec. 8267 (1950).
There was no discussion of sentencing discretion by anyone other than Senator Kilgore in either the Senate or House debates.
"At present the United States is the only nation in the free world where one judge can determine conclusively, decisively and finally the minimum period of time a defendant must remain in prison, without being subject to any review of his determination." Symposium, Appellate Review of Sentences, 32 F. R. D. 257, 260-261 (1962).
Professor Sanford H. Kadish also notes that in the United States, the "discretion of the judge . . . in [sentencing] matters is virtually free of substantive control or guidance," Kadish, Legal Norm and Discretion in the Police and Sentencing Processes, 75 Harv. L. Rev. 904, 916 (1962). We are unwilling to ascribe to the Congress an intent to import, sub silentio, sentencing doctrine contrary to traditional powers of sentencing judges.
"Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to preclude the court, in any case, from sentencing a youth offender under any other applicable penalty provision." S. 3290, 92d Cong., 2d Sess. (1972); see 118 Cong. Rec. 6776-6788 (1972).
The proposed amendment was not enacted.
On the other hand, there is considerable evidence that the Borstal system did, in fact, provide a model on the question of the trial court's sentencing discretion, not the least of which is the marked similarity between 18 U. S. C. § 5010 (d) and the Criminal Justice Act of 1948, § 17 (2), 11 & 12 Geo. 6, c. 58, both of which require a no-benefit finding as a prerequisite to adult sentencing.