Fair Sentencing Act of 2010
Crack Cocaine Pipeline Cases Decided by SCOTUS
Its a big day at the United States Supreme Court. Inmates have been waiting for nearly two years for the high court to decide on a Circuit Court split that meant decades in longer sentences for crack cocaine “Pipeline” cases.
The Supreme Court handed down an extremely divided decision today in a 5-4 ruling for the defendants. Below is a quick recap of the issues.
The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010: This law, passed by Congress, lowered the penalties on crack cocaine offenses to be close to those of powder cocaine sentences.
Pending Cases: Defendants whose cases which started before the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 took effect ((August of 2010)), but were sentenced afterwards were sometimes given the new, lower sentences. Some, however, got the older and longer sentences. These cases were in the pipeline when the law took effect.
Most Circuit Courts who decided this issue granted the lower sentences to the Appellants. ((See the Third and First Circuit cases)) The Seventh (surprise, surprise) and Sixth Circuit ((United States v. Carradine, ___ F.3d ___, No. 08-3220, 2010 WL 3619799, at *4-*5 (6th Cir. Sept. 20, 2010)) went the other direction and decided that the older (and “unfair”) sentences were appropriate.
What Happens Now
At this point, all inmates who were charged with crack cocaine offenses before August of 2010, but sentenced afterward need to take a close look at their sentences. If sentenced under old rules, they could be eligible for years in sentence reductions with a simple 3582 motion.
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