Sentencing / Post-Conviction
The U.S. Justice Department is interpreting the First Step Act in a way that would keep more crack cocaine offenders behind bars, even as President Donald Trump touts his administration s role in passage of the criminal-justice reform law.
One section of the First Step Act allows inmates sentenced for crack cocaine to apply for retroactive application of a 2010 law that reduces the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine offenses. More than 3,000 inmates have been released under the provision since the law was passed nearly a year ago, the Washington Post reports.
But the Justice Department is arguing that sentence length should be based on the amount of crack cocaine that an offender may have actually possessed or trafficked, as indicated by court records, rather than the amount that the conviction was based upon. Federal prosecutors have made the argument in hundreds of cases, according to the Post.
The Justice Department was even seeking to reincarcerate some people already released under the law, according to the article. One targeted former inmate was Gregory Allen, who appeared at a White House event in April to celebrate passage of the law. President Donald Trump called Allen to the microphone.
Prosecutors had lost their bid to keep Allen behind bars and were appealing the decision at the time of the event. The department dropped their appeal about two weeks after Allen s appearance....