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United States v. Parrish

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

February 12, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Richard Parrish, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:17-cr-20807-1-Bernard A. Friedman, District Judge.

         ON BRIEF:

          Jessica Lefort, FEDERAL DEFENDER OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Jihan M. Williams, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: KEITH, COOK, and LARSEN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          LARSEN, Circuit Judge.

         Richard Parrish had a cellphone in prison. After a woman outside the prison informed prison officials that he had been texting her, Parrish was charged with misdemeanor possession of contraband and pleaded guilty. The district court sentenced Parrish to five months in prison to run consecutively to his 250-month prison sentence for controlled substance distribution. On appeal, Parrish challenges the reasonableness of his sentence. We AFFIRM.

         I.

         On June 25, 2017, a woman outside the prison left an anonymous tip with a corrections officer, saying that Parrish, a federal prisoner, had been texting her. Officers began a search; found Parrish in a prison bathroom; and saw him pull a cellphone from his pocket, break the phone in half, and toss it away. The officers recovered the phone. Parrish was charged with one count of possession of contraband in prison, a misdemeanor offense. 18 U.S.C. § 1791(a)(2). He pleaded guilty to the charge.

         The government asked for a sentence within the Guidelines range of four to ten months. Defense counsel asked the district court to impose a below-Guidelines sentence of one day, arguing that the court should vary downward because the Bureau of Prisons had already disciplined Parrish for the cellphone incident; because a one-day sentence was commensurate with sentences given to others in the district charged with the same crime; and because Parrish had not seen his family in three years and so had used the phone to "contact friends and family on the outside." When asked at sentencing whether he had anything to say, Parrish told the court that he "had the phone to keep in contact with my children[] and stuff like that." Responding to Parrish's statement and explaining the sentence, the court stated:

In this matter, the Bureau of Prisons became aware of the situation . . . because some third-party who he was texting, a woman, contacted them. So that's fairly disturbing because, obviously, it wasn't his family or they wouldn't have turned him in.
Somebody turned him in that didn't want him to contact them. So this is a different case, though. I have seen another one. At least in my mind if he was contacting his family, that's-you know, it's not right, but . . . he's contacting somebody that didn't want him to contact them and turned him in, which is pretty acute in this day and age especially.
And I understand that he has been probably more than sufficiently disciplined in the prison system, but the prison system is not the criminal justice system. And there's no question about that. I have to impose a sentence pursuant to the sentencing guidelines, if I find them applicable. And I do find them applicable in this case. I don't have any reason to fashion anything other than the sentencing guidelines because I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be fair. And also under the 3553 criteria. As I say, this is the criminal aspect of it, not the disciplinary aspect of it, of the prison.
And I have to fashion something. Especially in this case. This one is a deterrence case to a great deal that will deter him and ...

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