from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Kentucky at Louisville. No. 3:00-cr-00065-1-David
J. Hale, District Judge.
W. Heft, Jr., Laura R. Wyrosdick, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL
DEFENDER, Louisville, Kentucky, for Appellant.
Candace G. Hill, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE,
Louisville, Kentucky, for Appellee.
Before: COOK, KETHLEDGE, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.
KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judge.
Joe Rucker argues that the district court considered a
forbidden factor-ironically, rehabilitation-when the court
determined the length of his sentence for violating the terms
of his supervised release. The record indeed suggests that
the district court considered that factor. Hence we vacate
Rucker's sentence and remand for resentencing.
November 8, 2013, Rucker finished an approximately 15-year
term of imprisonment and began a five-year term of supervised
release. Rucker violated the terms of his supervised release
on four occasions in 2014 and 2016 when he tested positive
for methamphetamine. Those violations triggered the
application of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(g), which required the
court to revoke Rucker's supervised release and to
sentence him to "a term of imprisonment" not to
exceed, in Rucker's case, five years. (For violations
that do not trigger the application of § 3583(g), the
court's decision whether to revoke the defendant's
supervised release is discretionary. See 18 U.S.C.
§ 3583(e).) Before determining the length of
Rucker's new term of imprisonment, however, the district
court first permitted him to enter an inpatient
addiction-treatment program. Presumably if Rucker had
successfully completed the program the court would have
imposed a short sentence for Rucker's violations. About a
month after Rucker entered the program, however, he was
ejected for arguing with another participant.
district court then held a revocation hearing to determine
the length of Rucker's prison term for his violations.
Rucker's Guidelines range was 21 to 27 months'
imprisonment. The court imposed a sentence of 24 months,
which it explained at least in part on the ground that Rucker
could qualify for the Bureau of Prisons' residential
drug-abuse program only if his sentence was at least 22
months in length.
now challenges the substantive reasonableness of his
sentence, which we review for an abuse of discretion.
United States v. Deen, 706 F.3d 760, 762 (6th Cir.
2013). A sentence is substantively unreasonable if (among
other things) the district court bases it on an impermissible
factor. United States v. Greco, 734 F.3d 441, 450
(6th Cir. 2013).
argues the district court did that here. His argument is
based upon 18 U.S.C. § 3582(a), which provides in
The [district] court, in determining whether to impose a term
of imprisonment, and, if a term of imprisonment is to be
imposed, in determining the length of the term, shall
consider the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the
extent that they are applicable, recognizing that
imprisonment is not an appropriate means of promoting
correction and rehabilitation.
plain terms of this provision, the Supreme Court has held
that "[s]ection 3582(a) precludes sentencing courts from
imposing or lengthening a prison term to promote an
offender's rehabilitation." Tapia v. United
States, 564 U.S. 319, 332 (2011). And because in
Tapia the sentencing transcript "suggest[ed]
the possibility that Tapia's sentence was based on her
rehabilitative needs[, ]" id. at 334, the Court
remanded the case.
the district court explained the rationale for Rucker's
sentence as follows:
. . . I'm going to indicate in the strongest terms to the
Bureau of Prisons that you be placed in the residential drug
abuse program ...