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This Note contends that the importance of rehabilitation as a valid and necessary principle of punishment is overlooked in § 3582(a) of the SRA and further argues that a judge should be permitted to consider rehabilitation when deciding to sentence a defendant to a term of imprisonment, so long as rehabilitation is not a dominant factor in coming to that decision. Part I outlines the principles of punishment and the rise and decline of the rehabilitative system of punishment in the United States. It also discusses the importance of rehabilitation and how society could benefit from a system that does not leave rehabilitation by the wayside. Part II discusses the Supreme Court’s ruling in Tapia v. United States and the resulting circuit split concerning the degree to which rehabilitation can be considered when sentencing a criminal defendant to a term of imprisonment in accordance with § 3553(a)(2)(D) and § 3582(a) of the SRA. Finally, Part III recommends that the Supreme Court resolve the circuit split by adopting the Fifth Circuit’s additional justification and dominant factor tests, or alternatively, that Congress amend § 3582(a) so as to permit judges to consider and talk about potential rehabilitation, without fear of being overruled for such discussions, when sentencing a defendant to prison.



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