FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW
MEXICO (D.C. NO. 1:08-CR-00229-JAP-2)
J. Villa, The Law Office of Ryan J. Villa, Albuquerque, New
Mexico, for Appellant.
A. Ong, Assistant United States Attorney (James D. Tierney,
Acting United States Attorney, with her on the brief), Las
Cruces, New Mexico, for Appellee.
TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, MORITZ, and EID, Circuit Judges.
TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge.
district court sentenced Steven Ford to twenty years'
imprisonment for various firearms-possession charges,
followed by three years of supervised release. Because of a
sex-offense conviction nineteen years earlier, the district
court placed sex-offense-specific conditions on Ford's
term of supervised release. Specifically, the court required
Ford to undergo a sex-offender assessment, and if recommended
by the assessment, to submit to treatment which could include
polygraph questioning about his sexual past.
contends on appeal that the district court abused its
discretion because the sex-offender conditions are not
reasonably related to the sentencing factors in 18 U.S.C.
§ 3583. We hold that, notwithstanding Ford's long
custodial sentence and new life sentence for a different
crime, Ford's challenge is ripe for review. We further
hold the district court did not abuse its discretion by
requiring Ford to undergo a sex-offender risk assessment as a
condition of supervised release.
1998, a Kansas state court sentenced Steven Ford to ten
years' imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to a charge
of Indecent Liberties with a Child. The victim was a
serving time for the sex-offense conviction as well as other
crimes, in 2007 Ford escaped from a maximum-security prison
in Kansas. Law enforcement found Ford in New Mexico and
brought federal charges for (1) being a felon in possession
of a firearm; (2) being a fugitive in possession of a
firearm; and (3) possessing stolen firearms. A jury convicted
Ford on all counts and the court sentenced Ford to 360
October 2016, Ford filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion
seeking to vacate his sentence, and in February 2017, the
district court granted the motion. At the re-sentencing
hearing the following month, the district court sentenced
Ford to 240 months' imprisonment, to run consecutively to
his state terms of imprisonment in Kansas. The court also
sentenced Ford to supervised release for three years after
completion of his custodial sentence.
several special conditions for Ford's supervised release,
the court imposed two sex-offender-specific conditions.
First, the court required Ford to "undergo a sex
offense-specific assessment to determine the level of risk
for sexual dangerousness, recidivism, and amenability to
treatment and formulate treatment recommendations if
treatment is necessary." R., Vol. I at 92. Second,
"[i]f recommended in the sex offense-specific
assessment, " Ford "must begin attending and
participating in sex-offender treatment consistent with the
recommendations of the evaluation." Id.
Treatment can include "clinical polygraph
examinations" if they are "directed by the
probation officer and/or treatment provider."
attorney objected to these special conditions. The offenses
before the court were the firearms convictions, he argued,
and Ford's only prior sex-offense was in 1998-at this
point nineteen years before-when Ford was only seventeen
court explained the special conditions were "based on
his prior sex offense conviction engaging in sexual acts with
a 13-year-old girl" and "further, that there ha[d]
been no indication that the defendant ha[d] ever received
sex-offender-specific treatment." R., Vol. IV at 10. The
conditions were "reasonable and justified" because
Ford had not undergone a "sex-offense-specific
assessment, largely because he'[d] been in prison
virtually his entire life." Id. at 12. Though
it could "be that after the assessment nothing is
recommended, " the court thought it "appropriate to
have the assessment done." Id. at 13. The
conditions thus remained.
appealed the reasonableness of the district court's
decision to attach those two conditions to his supervised
release. While this appeal was pending, in a proceeding
unrelated to this case, Ford pleaded guilty to the murder of
his cellmate in an Oklahoma state prison and an Oklahoma
court sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility
challenges the sex-offender conditions because they are
linked to a crime that occurred long before his federal
conviction. In addition to arguing the conditions were
reasonable, the government asks us to defer ruling on the
reasonableness of the conditions on ripeness grounds. Since
Ford's long terms of incarceration mean he may never
begin his period of supervised release, the government argues
that prudence counsels against reviewing Ford's
conditions of supervised release at this time. Before we
reach the merits, then, we must address the government's
argument that we should exercise our discretion under the
prudential ripeness doctrine and decline to review Ford's