sentencing guidelines

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Holder to Ax 'Draconian' Drug Sentences

For low-level offenders not associated with gangs or drug rings

(Newser) - Eric Holder is set to today to reveal what the Washington Post is calling the planned "cornerstone of the rest of his tenure": a revamp of federal prison policy. And one part of the overhaul—a big change to sentencing for low-level drug offenders—is getting a great deal... More »

Holder Backs Release of 5,500 Crack Offenders

Proposal would correct vast crack/cocaine sentencing gap

(Newser) - Eric Holder today told the US Sentencing Commission that he supports a proposal to release thousands of federal prisoners convicted on crack-related offenses. Until Congress changed them last year, federal sentencing guidelines gave crack users—who are predominantly poor and black—much harsher sentences than powder cocaine users. Now, Holder... More »

White-Collar Sentences: Too Harsh, or Too Soft?

Loss calculations wildly swing the scale, as in the case of Bruce Karatz

(Newser) - Should Bruce Karatz spend half a decade in prison—or no time at all? Karatz, the ex-CEO of KB Homes, has been convicted of trying to swindle the company out of $11 million. The probation office says he should get eight months' home confinement. But prosecutors want to lock him... More »

Calif. '3 Strikes' Convict Freed

Homeless man got 25 years to life for attempted break-in

(Newser) - A homeless man sentenced to 25 years to life for trying to break into a church soup kitchen to find food has been freed by a Los Angeles judge. Gregory Taylor received the stiff sentence under California's 'three strikes" law in 1997 because he had two felony convictions for a... More »

Congress Cuts Racist Crack Sentencing Disparity

Felony amount now only 18 times higher for powder cocaine

(Newser) - Congress quietly eased up the federal sentencing guideline on crack cocaine yesterday, addressing one of the more glaring disparities of the drug war. In what critics have called a racist double-standard, possessing a mere 5 grams of crack is considered a felony, compared to 500 grams for powdered cocaine. The... More »

Probation Violation Sends Ex-Detroit Mayor to Prison

Kawme Kilpatrick sentenced to 1½ to 5 years, loses his job

(Newser) - Courtroom spectators gasped today when a judge sentenced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to between 1½ and 5 years in prison, far exceeding the sentencing guideline of zero to 17 months for violating his probation. 'This is all because of the actions of you, Mr. Kilpatrick,” Judge David Groner... More »

Millennium Bomber to Be Resentenced

Court rules 22-year prison term for LAX plotter was too soft

(Newser) - The 22-year sentence a Seattle judge gave a man who plotted to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on the last day of 1999 is so soft it constitutes a procedural error, an appeals court ruled yesterday. The court ordered Algerian-born al-Qaeda member Ahmed Ressam to be resentenced by a... More »

Accident or No, Gunfire Gets Automatic Penalty: Supremes

(Newser) - The Supreme Court says accidentally shooting a gun during the commission of a crime should bring the same penalties as intentionally using a firearm. The high court today upheld the conviction and sentence of Christopher Michael Dean, who was arrested for trying to rob a bank in Georgia in 2004.... More »

New York to Roll Back Strict '70s Drug Laws

Gov., legislative leaders make deal to repel mandatory sentences

(Newser) - New York's governor and legislative leaders have agreed to repeal some of the nation's most draconian drug laws, the New York Times reports. The move to dismantle strict mandatory sentencing guidelines set down in 1973 means judges will have the option of sending many first-time nonviolent drug offenders to treatment... More »

First Inmates Freed in Crack Overhaul

More than 3,000 eligible for release this year under new sentencing guidelines

(Newser) - Federal prisons are beginning to release prisoners to comply with new crack-cocaine sentencing guidelines, the Washington Post reports. The US Sentencing Commission made more than 3,000 inmates eligible for release this year by voting in December to even out punishments for crack-cocaine offenses against those involving powdered cocaine; crack... More »

Inmates Can Seek Early Release in Crack Cases

Panel applies new guidelines retroactively

(Newser) - Nearly 20,000 inmates now in jail on crack cocaine offenses can seek to have their sentences reduced, a federal sentencing panel ruled today. The panel decided to apply retroactively more lenient sentencing guidelines for crack convictions that went into effect last month. The move will have the "most... More »

Recent Cases Showcase New Judicial Leeway

Black, Vick decisions illustrate turn from sentencing guidelines

(Newser) - More federal judges are giving themselves wiggle room when it comes to once-strict sentencing guidelines, as evidenced by three recent high-profile court cases. The three—involving Conrad Black, Michael Vick, and a crack cocaine case that made it to the Supreme Court—illustrate how a spate of high-court rulings have... More »

Supremes: Judges Can Shorten Crack Sentences

Court sides with judicial discretion

(Newser) - The Supreme Court ruled today that federal judges can use discretion to order shorter prison sentences in crack cocaine crimes, to lessen a disparity with sentencing for powdered cocaine. It was a win for civil rights advocates, who have long argued that sentencing guidelines call for longer terms in crimes... More »

Sentence Cuts In Store for 19,500 Crack Convicts

Federal commission mulls rule change

(Newser) - The federal panel that sets sentencing guidelines for judges may decide as soon as tomorrow to cut at least 2 years off the sentences of 19,500 inmates convicted of using crack, the LA Times reports. New rules introduced this month equalize crack and powdered cocaine sentences, and tomorrow will... More »

New Standards Reduce Crack Cocaine Terms

Federal effort tries to bring parity to drug sentencing guidelines

(Newser) - Crack cocaine offenders will receive shorter prison sentences under new federal guidelines, which replaced rules that treated a gram of crack like 100 grams of powder cocaine. The rules introduced yesterday reduce the average sentence to 8 years, 10 months, the Times reports, and may reflect an effort to restore... More »

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