Johnson v. United States, 529 U.S. 694 (2000)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit

No. 99-5153. Argued February 22, 2000—Decided May 15, 2000

The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 replaced most forms of parole with supervised release overseen by the sentencing court. If release conditions are violated, that court may "revoke [the] release, and require the person to serve in prison all or part of the [supervised release] term . . . without credit for time previously served on postrelease supervision . . . ." 18 U. S. C. 3583(e)(3). In March 1994, the District Court sentenced petitioner Johnson to imprisonment followed by a term of supervised release. After beginning supervised release in 1995, Johnson violated two conditions of his release. The District Court revoked his release and ordered him to serve an 18-month prison term to be followed by an additional 12 months of supervised release. The court cited no authority for ordering additional supervised release, but, under Circuit law, it might have relied on 18 U. S. C. 3583(h), a subsection added to the statute in 1994, which explicitly gave district courts that power. Johnson appealed, arguing that 3583(e)(3) did not give the district courts power to order a new supervised release term following reimprisonment, and that applying 3583(h) to him violated the Ex Post Facto Clause. Although the Sixth Circuit had previously taken the same position as Johnson with regard to 3583(e)(3), it affirmed his sentence, reasoning that 3583(h)'s application was not retroactive because revocation of supervised release was punishment for John-son's violation of his release conditions, which occurred after the 1994 amendments.


1. Section 3583(h) does not apply retroactively, so no ex post facto issue arises in this case. To prevail on his ex post facto claim, Johnson must show, inter alia, that the law operates retroactively. Contrary to the Sixth Circuit's reasoning, postrevocation penalties are attributable to the original conviction, not to defendants' new offenses for violating their supervised release conditions. Thus, to sentence Johnson under 3583(h) would be to apply that section retroactively. However, absent a clear statement of congressional intent, 3583(h) applies only to cases in which the initial offense occurred after the amendment's effective date, September 13, 1994. The Government offers nothing indicating a contrary intent. The decision to alter 3583(e)(3)'s supervised release

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