Reno v. Koray
515 U.S. 50 (1995)

Annotate this Case

OCTOBER TERM, 1994

Syllabus

RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL. v. KORAY

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

No. 94-790. Argued April 24, 1995-Decided June 5,1995

Under 18 U. S. C. § 3585(b), a defendant generally must "be given credit toward the service of a term of imprisonment for any time he has spent in official detention prior to the date the sentence commences." Before respondent's federal sentence commenced, he was "released" on bail pursuant to the Bail Reform Act of 1984 and ordered confined to a community treatment center. Mter his prison sentence began, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) relied on its established policy in refusing to credit toward his sentence the time he had spent at the treatment center. He exhausted his administrative remedies and then filed a federal habeas corpus petition. A District Court denied his petition on the ground that his stay at the center was not "official detention" under § 3585(b). In reversing, the Court of Appeals declined to defer to BOP's view that time spent under highly restrictive conditions while "released" on bail is not "official detention" because a "released" defendant is not subject to BOP's control. It reasoned instead that "official detention" includes time spent under conditions of "jail-type confinement."

Held: The time respondent spent at the treatment center while "released" on bail was not "official detention" within the meaning of § 3585(b). Pp.55-65.

(a) Viewed in isolation, the phrase "official detention" could either refer, as the Government contends, to a court order detaining a defendant and committing him to the custody of the Attorney General for confinement, or, as respondent argues, to the restrictive conditions of his release on bail under an "official" order that significantly curtailed his liberty. Examination of the phrase in light of the context in which it is used, however, reveals that the Government's interpretation is correct. P.56.

(b) The "official detention" language must be construed in conjunction with the Bail Reform Act of 1984, since § 3585(b) provides credit only for presentence restraints on liberty and since it is the Bail Reform Act that authorizes federal courts to place such restraints on a defendant's liberty. That Act provides a court with only two choices: It may either "release" a defendant on bail, 18 U. S. C. § 3142(c), or order him "detained" without bail, §3142(e). A defendant suffers "detention" only when committed to the Attorney General's custody, § 3142(i)(2); a de-


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fendant admitted to bail, even on restrictive conditions, as respondent was, see §3142(c), is "released." Pp.56-58.

(c) Section 3585(a) and related sentencing provisions confirm the view that § 3585(b) is available only to those defendants who were detained in a penal or correctional facility and subject to BOP's control. The context and history of § 3585(b) also support this reading. The provision reduces a defendant's "imprisonment" by the amount of time spent in "official detention" before his sentence, strongly suggesting that the presentence "detention" period must be equivalent to the "imprisonment" itself. And nothing suggests that when Congress replaced § 3568 with § 3585(b), it substituted the phrase "official detention" for "in custody" because it disagreed with the Courts of Appeals' uniform rule that § 3568 denied credit to defendants released on bail. To the contrary, Congress presumably made the change to conform the credit statute to the nomenclature used in related sentencing provisions and in the Bail Reform Act of 1984. Pp. 58-60.

(d) In an internal guideline, BOP likewise has interpreted the phrase "official detention" to require credit only for a defendant's time spent under a § 3142 "detention order." This is the most natural reading of the phrase, and the internal guideline of the agency charged with administering the credit statute is entitled to some deference where it is a permissible construction of the statute. pp. 60-61.

(e) In contrast, respondent's reading of "official detention" is plausible only if the phrase is read in isolation. But even then, it is not the only plausible interpretation. Respondent correctly notes that a defendant "released" to a treatment center could be subject to restraints that do not materially differ from those imposed on a "detained" defendant who is assigned to a treatment center as part of his sentence. However, that fact does not undercut the important distinction between all defendants "detained" and all defendants "released" on bail: The former always remain completely subject to BOP's control. The Court of Appeals' alternative construction would require a fact-intensive inquiry into the circumstances of confinement in each case to determine whether a defendant "released" on bail was subjected to "jail-type confinement." On the other hand, the Government's construction provides both it and a defendant with clear notice of the consequences of a "release" or "detention" order. Finally, the rule of lenity does not apply here. A statute is not "ambiguous" for purposes of the rule merely because there is a division of judicial authority over its proper construction. Rather, the rule applies only if, after seizing everything from which aid can be derived, this Court can make no more than a guess as to what Congress intended. That is not this case. Pp. 61-65.

21 F.3d 558, reversed and remanded.


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Full Text of Opinion

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