Crack Law Details

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 19863 establishes the basic framework of statutory penalties currently applicable to federal drug trafficking offenses. With respect to cocaine offenses, the Act specifies separate statutory ranges for trafficking offenses involving various quantities of crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

Prior to August 3, 2010, for a first-time trafficking offense involving less than five grams of crack cocaine or less than 500 grams of powder cocaine, the statutory penalty range was zero to 20 years of imprisonment.

For a first-time trafficking offense involving five grams or more of crack cocaine, or 500 grams or more of powder cocaine, the statutory penalty range was five to 40 years of imprisonment.

Cocaine Powder

Cocaine Powder

For a first-time trafficking offense involving 50 or more grams of crack cocaine or 5,000 or more grams of powder cocaine, the statutory penalty range was 10 years to life imprisonment. Because it took 100 times more powder cocaine than crack cocaine to trigger the same statutory mandatory minimum penalties, this penalty structure was commonly referred to as the “100-to-1 drug quantity ratio.”

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 19885 also established a mandatory minimum
penalty for simple possession of crack cocaine. Prior to August 3, 2010, the statutory penalty range for first-time simple possession of five grams or less of crack cocaine was not more than one year of imprisonment. The statutory penalty range for first-time simple possession of more than five grams of crack cocaine was five to 20 years of imprisonment. The statutory penalty range for first-time simple possession of powder cocaine, regardless of the quantity, was not more than one year of imprisonment.

The Commission responded to the 1986 Act by incorporating the statutory
mandatory minimum sentences into the guidelines and generally extrapolating upward and downward to set guideline sentencing ranges for all drug quantities. Offenses sentenced under the primary drug trafficking guideline involving five grams or more of crack cocaine or 500 grams or more of powder cocaine were assigned a base offense level 26, which corresponds to a sentencing guideline range of 63 to 78 months for a defendant in Criminal History Category I.7 Similarly, offenses involving 50 grams or more of crack cocaine or 5,000 grams or more of powder cocaine were assigned a base offense level 32, which corresponds to a sentencing guideline range of 121 to 151 months for a defendant in Criminal History Category I. Crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses for quantities above and below the mandatory minimum penalty threshold quantities were set proportionately using the same 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio.

In order to account for the statutory mandatory minimum for simple possession offenses involving more than five grams of crack cocaine, the Commission included in the guideline for simple possession offenses a cross-reference to the drug trafficking guideline for offenders who possess more than five grams of crack cocaine.

crack cocaine

Crack Cocaine

In 2007, the Commission amended the Drug Quantity Table  for
offenses involving crack cocaine. The amendment, which became effective November 1, 2007, reduced by two levels the base offense level assigned by the Drug Quantity Table for each quantity of crack cocaine.10 Pursuant to the amendment, offenses involving five grams of crack cocaine were assigned a base offense level of 24, which corresponds to a sentencing guideline range of 51 to 63 months for a defendant in Criminal History Category I and includes the applicable five-year (60 month) statutory mandatory minimum. Similarly, offenses involving 50 grams of crack cocaine were assigned a base offense level of 30, which corresponds to a sentencing guideline range of 97 to 121
months for a defendant in Criminal History Category I and includes the applicable tenyear (120 month) statutory mandatory minimum. In addition, USSG 2D1.1 was amended to include a mechanism to determine a combined base offense level in a case involving crack cocaine and other substances.  (In this memorandum, these amendments are referred to collectively as the “2007 Crack Cocaine Amendment.”)

In 2007, the Commission voted to give retroactive effect to the 2007 Crack
Cocaine Amendment pursuant to the statutory authority discussed below. The retroactive application of the 2007 Crack Cocaine Amendment took effect on March 3, 2008, and was governed by the statutory provisions and guideline policy statements discussed in Part I.C. of this memorandum.

Categories: Crack Law | Leave a comment

Famm Gives Summary on Supreme Court Ruling

FAMM summary of the decision

In Freeman v. United States, No. 09-10245 (June 23, 2011),  the Supreme Court ruled that a defendant who enters a “binding” plea agreement may petition the court for early release should the sentencing guideline range be reduced and the reduction made retroactive.  At issue was whether a sentence imposed in a crack cocaine case under a binding plea agreement could be reduced under the 2007 crack minus two amendment.

Generally courts may not reduce a sentence, once that sentence is final.  There are a few exceptions.  The statute giving courts authority to reduce an already imposed guideline sentence is 18 U.S.C. § 3583(c)(2).  It states that the court may reduce a prisoner’s sentence if

• that sentence was “based on” a guideline
• that guideline was later reduced and
• that guideline reduction was made “retroactive.”

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) direct sentencing courts to impose the sentence agreed on by the prosecutor and the defendant if the court accepts the plea agreement. The key issue in Freeman was whether such a sentence is “based on” the guidelines or “based on” the plea agreement.  If the former, it may be revisited when the guideline is reduced and made retroactive.

Four Justices, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, formed a “plurality” to hold  that a sentence based on a binding plea agreement, even if it was not within the guideline range, is likely to be “based on” the guidelines so that judges may consider retroactivity.  A judge may reopen the sentence “to whatever extent the sentencing range in question was a relevant part of the analytic framework the judge used to determine the sentence or approve the agreement.” In Freeman’s case, before the judge accepted the binding plea agreement, he calculated the guideline range and considered it when determining whether to accept the plea agreement before imposing the sentence.

As it turned out, that agreed on sentence was within the guideline range and the agreement said that Freeman “agrees to have his sentence determined pursuant to the Sentencing Guidelines.”  Justice Sotomayor joined the judgment. She disagreed though with the plurality’s reasoning.  She wrote that a sentence imposed under a binding plea agreement is one not based on the guidelines, but rather based on the agreement.  She concurred because the ultimate sentence “expressly use[d] a Guidelines sentencing range . . . to establish the term of imprisonment.”  The ultimate sentence, according to Sotomayor, does not need to fall within the guideline but the agreement must make it clear that the parties arrived at the sentence by calculating the guideline range and explicitly connecting the agreed upon sentence to that range (for example, by saying “50% of the range”).

It is unsettled which opinion controls. The Supreme Court has said that in such instances, the position taken by the concurring members who concurred on the narrowest grounds rules.  But, because Justice Sotomayor’s opinion starts from a different analysis, it is unclear if it prevails.  If you think that you might benefit from this outcome or have questions, we encourage you to contact your lawyer.

Read More FAMM News Releases Here

Categories: FAMM | Leave a comment

A Little Federal Prison History

Did you know that the modern day prison system began to form shortly after the Revolutionary War? Yes it’s true. The 1790′s brought with it new ideas for imprisonment. The idea of reforming a prisoner versus the traditional theory of punishing those imprisoned was finally underway. Jails, on the other hand are nothing new in history. Jail cells have been around for hundreds of years. There is documented proof dating back to the year 1166 when King Henry II, the King of England at the time, had ordered jails to be built to house those who had broken his laws.

The U.S. prison system continued to develop into the 1800′s when the Quakers, who did not believe in war or violence, constructed the first penitentiary type institution. It was built in the old Walnut Street Jail which was situated behind Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. The Quakers also realized that imprisonment should be used to help reform the individual and not solely punish them. Unfortunately, the Quakers used single man cells in which each prisoner was isolated from human contact. The inmates each had their own adjacent exercise yard where they could spend time but they were always alone with no human interaction. This type of solitary confinement slowly caused many of the prisoners to become mentally ill and eventually insane.

Auburn Prison

Auburn Prison

Meanwhile, in Auburn, New York, a second prison was built in 1825 using a different approach for prisoners. In the Auburn prison, the inmates were housed together in hopes of solving the emotional problems which developed from solitary confinement. The most serious criminals were still confined alone just as they would have been in Pennsylvania but all other inmates were allowed to work and eat together on a daily basis. The only drawback for the inmates was they were not allowed to talk. The inmates were required to remain silent at all times or face serious consequences such as being placed back in solitary confinement. This new approach in the prison system seemed to be working quite well and the imminent threat of inmates going insane began to diminish in the years that followed.

By 1913 the Pennsylvania method of housing prisoners in solitary confinement was discontinued except for those committing the most severe and heinous types of crimes. By 1876 the first reformatory was established in Elmira, New York. This institution was built to help reform, rather than punish juveniles who have broken the law. These younger prisoners were taught a trade while incarcerated at the informatory. They could serve their time learning and mastering a trade and then have a better chance for a crime free life once released back to the outside community. This type of reform is seen all over in today’s world with numerous juvenile detention programs around the nation. With the onset of the twentieth century, also came individualized treatment programs for various offenders. During this time is when inmates suffering from drug and alcohol abuse could seek additional help while incarcerated. Similar programs followed for inmates who were mentally ill and for those who committed sex crimes.

It would be during the 1970′s when the prison system began to fall apart. Both the state and federal institutions were flooded with prisoners of all ages, races, and religions. Overcrowding became a huge problem that has since never been corrected. With the crowded prisons came tension. The high tension would frequently result in violence. The violence transformed into racial problems and the racial problems manifested themselves into prison gangs. The most violent prison riot occurred at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. Hundreds of deaths resulted from this bloody battle.

Supermax Prison Florence

Supermax Prison Florence

Today’s modern day prisons are still severely overcrowded, filled with corruption, and flooded with gangs. At many prisons the gangs actually run the inner workings of the prison. Without proper funding for new prisons or reformed laws that lessen the length of imprisonment for various crimes, the problem of overcrowding in American prisons will continue to grow with each passing day.

Categories: Other | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Second Chance Act Funding

In fiscal year 2009, $25 million was appropriated for Second Chance Act programs, including $15 million for state and local reentry demonstration projects and $10 million for grants to nonprofit organizations for mentoring and other transitional services.

In fiscal year 2010, $114 million was appropriated for prisoner reentry programs in the Department of Justice, including $14 million for reentry initiatives in the Federal Bureau of Prisons and $100 million for Second Chance Act grant programs:

  • $37 million for reentry demonstration projects under Sec. 101 of the Second Chance Act
  • $15 million for mentoring grants to nonprofit organizations under Sec. 211
  • $10 million for reentry courts under Sec. 111
  • $7.5 million for family-based, substance abuse treatment under Sec. 113
  • $2.5 million for grants to evaluate and improve education in prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities under Sec. 114
  • $5 million for technology careers training demonstration grants under Sec. 115
  • $13 million for reentry substance abuse and criminal justice collaboration under Sec. 201
  • $10 million for reentry research under Sec. 245

In FY10, $108,493,000 was appropriated for prisoner reentry programs in the Department of Labor, including $15 million for a transitional jobs grant program.

On February 1, 2010, the Office of Management and Budget released the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2011, which includes $100 million for Second Chance Act grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. The President’s Budget is now under review in Congress. In March, 60 members of the House of Representatives, led by Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL), Howard Coble (R-NC), and Bobby Scott (D-VA), submitted a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to request full funding for the Second Chance Act in fiscal year 2010. In April, 21 members of the Senate, led Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), submitted a letter of support for the Second Chance Act to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.

On July 22, 2010, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2011 that allocates $50 million for Second Chance Act programs. The bill, which contains $29.9 billion in total budget authority, provides $3.7 billion for state and local law enforcement programs and also includes:

  • $11 million for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act
  • $520 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants
  • $214 million for Byrne Discretionary Grants
  • $40 million for Byrne Competitive Grants
  • $586 million for Community Oriented Policing Service Grants
  • $45 million for drug courts
  • $20 million for residential substance abuse treatment for state prisoners
  • $300 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program
  • $468 million for the Office on Violence Against Women
  • $490 million for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention
  • $468 million to prevent violence against women
  • $400 million to prevent, investigate, and prosecute crimes against children under the Adam Walsh Act
  • $841 million for the Crime Victims Fund
Categories: Second Chance Act | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Federal Prison Sucks

The help you need and the answers you want; that is what you will find here at RMPS; the official page for federal prison reduction strategies and techniques is now live! It is a special group of people that work here at RMPS. We have all been to federal prison for one thing or another and all want to extend a helping hand to others who may be going through the same stressful times. Here at RMPS we will be staying up to date on all the latest news that affects your federal prison sentence as well as offering a plethora of information about the many ways to minmize one’s sentence. Join us to fight for fair prison sentences for all who will be, or already are, incarcerated in federal prison. Join the cause here at www.ReduceMyPrisonSentence.com today! Don’t forget to “Like” and “Recommend” and “Tweet” our page and give us a boost! Fear not, there are better days ahead.

Reduce My Prison Sentence

 

Contact the folks at ReduceMyPrisonSentence.com with your questions and concerns.

* (denotes required field)

Powered by Fast Secure Contact Form

Categories: Other | Leave a comment