Justice and Law Enforcement:

Legislative Changes Are Needed To Handle Certain Cases Under the Federal Youth Corrections Act

GGD-83-40: Published: Mar 9, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1983.

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Arnold P. Jones
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GAO issued a report on a review of federal parole practices to assess how well the U.S. Parole Commission carries out its activities and to determine the extent of coordination between the Commission and those federal government components which provide information to the Commission for its use in making parole release decisions. The GAO observations in this report are based on the earlier review of federal parole practices.

GAO found that the 1979 amendments to the Federal Magistrates Act created disparities in the sentences that may be imposed by magistrates, compared with those of judges, under the Federal Youth Corrections Act for petty offenses and misdemeanors. Both judges and magistrates may impose a 5-year term of probation for adults. A judge can also impose a 5-year term of probation under the Federal Youth Corrections Act, but a magistrate may impose only a 6-month or 1-year term of probation for petty offenses and misdemeanors, respectively. The maximum sentences that judges and magistrates may impose on adult offenders for petty offenses and misdemeanors are 6 months and 1 year, respectively. These are the same sentences which the 1979 amendments to Federal Magistrates Act authorized magistrates to impose under the Federal Youth Corrections Act. However, the Federal Youth Corrections Act provided that a judge will impose a 6-year sentence on a youthful offender for all offenses. An additional issue that was brought to the attention of GAO was the need for judges and magistrates to have the authority to impose a split sentence involving both incarceration and probation on youthful offenders. The Commission makes parole release determinations and the Federal Probation System supervises youthful offenders sentenced to incarceration by magistrates under the Federal Youth Corrections Act. However, their sentences are so short that few, if any, benefits are obtained from parole consideration or parole supervision.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matters for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Congress should amend the Federal Magistrates Act to remove the restriction on the term of probation that a magistrate may impose under the Federal Youth Corrections Act, 6 months for a petty offense and 1 year for a misdemeanor, to allow a magistrate to impose the same maximum period of probation that a judge can impose, 5 years.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When the Crime Control Act of 1984 was passed, Congress abolished the Federal Youth Correction Act.

    Matter: Congress should amend the Federal Magistrates Act to eliminate the requirements that for youthful offenders sentenced to incarceration under the Magistrates Act: (1) the Parole Commission make parole release determinations; and (2) the Federal Probation System supervise them.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When the Crime Control Act of 1984 was passed, Congress abolished the Federal Youth Corrections Act.

    Matter: Congress should amend the Federal Youth Corrections Act to: (1) limit the period of incarceration which a judge can sentence a youthful offender for a petty offense or misdemeanor to 6 months and 1 year, respectively; and (2) authorize judges and magistrates to impose split sentences on youthful offenders.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When the Crime Control Act of 1984 was passed, Congress abolished the Federal Youth Corrections Act.

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