UNITED STATES, PETITIONER
ROY LEE JOHNSON
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
[March 1, 2000]
Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court.
An offender had been serving time in federal prison for multiple felonies when two of his
convictions were declared invalid. As a result, he had served too much prison time and was at
once set free, but a term of supervised release was yet to be served on the remaining
convictions. The question becomes whether the excess prison time should be credited to the
supervised release term, reducing its length. Bound by the text of the controlling statute,
U.S.C. § 3624
(e), we hold that the supervised release term remains unaltered.
Respondent Roy Lee Johnson was convicted in 1990 on two counts of possession with an
intent to distribute controlled substances, 84 Stat. 1260,
21 U.S.C. § 841
(a), on two counts of
use of a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime,
18 U.S.C. § 924
(c) (1994 ed., and
Supp. IV), and on one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, §922(g). He
received a sentence of 171 months’ imprisonment, consisting of three concurrent 51-month
terms on the §841(a) and §922(g) counts, to be followed by two consecutive 60-month terms on
the §924(c) counts. In addition, the District Court imposed a mandatory 3-year term of
supervised release for the drug possession offenses. See
21 U.S.C. § 841
(b)(1)(C) (1994 ed.,
Supp. III). The Court of Appeals, though otherwise affirming respondent’s convictions and
sentence, concluded the District Court erred in sentencing him to consecutive terms of
imprisonment for the two §924(c) firearm offenses.
, 25 F.3d 1335,
1337—1338 (CA6 1994) (en banc). On remand the District Court modified the prisoner’s
sentence to a term of 111 months.
After our decision in
516 U.S. 137
(1995), respondent filed a motion
28 U.S.C. § 2255
to vacate his §924(c) convictions, and the Government did not oppose.
On May 2, 1996, the District Court vacated those convictions, modifying respondent’s sentence
to 51 months. He had already served more than that amount of time, so the District Court
ordered his immediate release. His term of supervised release then went into effect. This dispute
concerns its length.
In June 1996, respondent filed a motion requesting the District Court to reduce his supervised
release term by 2.5 years, the extra time served on the vacated §924(c) convictions. The District
Court denied relief, explaining that pursuant to
18 U.S.C. § 3624
(e) the supervised release
commenced upon respondent’s actual release from incarceration, not before. Granting
respondent credit, the court observed, would undermine Congress’ aim of using supervised
release to assist convicted felons in their transitions to community life.
A divided Court of Appeals reversed. 154 F.3d 569 (CA6 1998). The court accepted