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July 18, 2008

Catching up with beneficiaries of crack retroactivity

The Boston Globe has this notable new piece headlined "Inequity's end means new start for 31: Crack offenders from Mass. see US sentences trimmed." Here are snippets:

In December, the Sentencing Commission reduced the sentencing range for certain crack offenses by two levels. For example, it lowered the maximum recommended sentence for selling 5 grams of cocaine from 78 months to 63 months.

Judges in Massachusetts have responded swiftly.  By July 8, judges had trimmed the sentences of 79 of 109 inmates, including those who were freed, according to Chief US District Judge Mark L. Wolf.  Some freed prisoners have been detained elsewhere for other legal proceedings, including deportation if they are not US citizens.

The commission had estimated that 25 prisoners from Massachusetts would be eligible for release by November and that a total of 91 prisoners could be freed through 2012. Nationwide, the commission has estimated that about 20,500 will eventually be freed early.

US Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey had opposed making the new guidelines retroactive, saying it could send violent criminals back to the streets en masse. But Wolf said the revised guidelines have safeguards.  Judges consult prosecutors, defense lawyers, probation officers, and others about the conduct of imprisoned inmates and strive not to release anyone who might pose a danger, he said.  Those sentenced as career offenders are ineligible.  Prosecutors have agreed to most of the 79 shortened sentences, Wolf added.

US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said that if defendants meet eligibility requirements and are not a danger to the community, prosecutors should not object.  Lieutenant Jeffrey P. Silva — a spokesman for the New Bedford police, who have made numerous crack cocaine arrests — said he does not worry that crime will rise as a result of the releases.  But he minimized the significance of the sentence disparities, saying, "I don't feel there's anybody who got arrested for crack cocaine who was a pillar of the community."

A report released by the commission last month, based on partial data, indicated that defendants whose sentences were shortened in Massachusetts had originally been sentenced to an average of nine years in prison and that their sentences were cut to about 7 1/2 years.

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July 18, 2008 at 03:29 AM | Permalink


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i am writing you in regards to my brother-in-law. he was pled guilty by his lawyer
who was not versed in immigration law to possession of .0015 grams of crack.
he was given a suspended sentence and probation in 2001. comes 2004 and he is
sent letter of deportation because of this 2001 case because now they consider
this a aggravated felony which is deportable. he had a lawyer file a letter of appeal
based on bad advice. now comes 2007 and he is still fighting this deportation and
has been arrested for something else.so now he is on mandatory detention since
october 2007 and cannot get out of jail. DO YOU THINK THE RETROACTIVE SENTENCING LAW

Posted by: anne osman | Jul 21, 2009 9:06:29 PM

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