In United States v. Haymond, the justices will weigh in on a challenge to the constitutionality of a federal law that requires additional prison time for sex offenders who violate the terms of their supervised release.
The defendant in the case is Andre Haymond, who was convicted on child pornography charges in 2010. A federal court sentenced Haymond to 38 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release.
In 2015, Haymond was charged with violating his supervised release by (among other things) possessing pornography and child pornography, failing to tell the probation office about computers that he owned and repeatedly failing to attend sex-offender treatment sessions. A district court sentenced him to five additional years in prison, followed by five more years of supervised release.
Haymond appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which vacated the new prison sentence and sent his case back for resentencing. The court of appeals concluded that the federal law governing the revocation of supervised release and requiring additional prison time for sex offenders who violate the terms of their supervised release is unconstitutional, for two reasons: It takes away the sentencing judge’s discretion and imposes additional punishment on sex offenders based on new conduct, for which they had not been convicted by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
The federal government went to the Supreme Court over the summer, asking the justices to review the 10th Circuit’s ruling. The government told the court that the part of the law that the lower court struck down plays “an important role in protecting the public from harm,” and today the justices agreed to take up the case.