Amendments to the Sentencing Commission’s crack cocaine guidelines and their retroactivity become effective today. That also allows the first group of prisoners eligible for modest sentence reductions to be released from federal prisons, as well., according to a press release by the Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a national activist group “for fair and proportional sentencing laws.” (Reader Friendly Text)
The Sentencing Commission estimates that 2,520 of the 19,500 persons in prison would be eligible to request review in 2008, but the process is not automatic. The federal courts are administering application of the new retroactive guidelines, brought about in combination because of the Supreme Court’s decisions last year in Kimbrough and Gall, along with Sentencing Commission’s repeated recommendations for a number of years. (See Congressional Reports from Feb. 1995 and May 2007)
Retroactivity is not going to apply to career offenders or armed career criminals. Persons sentenced to 5- or 10-year mandatory minimums, or life sentences are also ineligible.
There remains debate and some confusion on the topic in general, but also a number of advisories such as the Center for Community Alternatives’ “Importance of Individual Assessment: Making the Most of Resentencing Under the Amended Crack Cocaine Guidelines.” (Here)
Full Text version of amendments
Supplement to 2007 Sentencing Guidelines Manual