On June 30, 2011, the United States Sentencing Commission voted to make the 2010 crack cocaine United States Sentencing Guideline amendments’ retroactive. This is significant and if you or someone you love was sentenced for a crack cocaine charge they need to contact an attorney immediately, if they are still incarcerated for a potential reduction of their sentence. The effective date is November 1, 2011. If you were charged and convicted in Federal District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia the Federal Public Defenders Offices along with the Federal Probation Office have been working to develop a list of persons who may benefit from these new amendments.
The Sentencing Commission estimates that approximately 12,000 offenders may be eligible to seek a sentence reduction, which on average, will be 37 months. The struggle to make the sentencing guidelines “more fair” when faced with the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine is a battle which had been fought for many years. If you were sentenced for crack, you received 100 times the sentence you would have if your offense involved the same amount of powder cocaine. The Fair Sentencing Act reduced the disparity between “crack” and “powder” to 18 to one. It was argued that this disparity resulted in a racial disparity, given that the black communities form of preference was “crack” cocaine and the white communities preferred powder.
The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, was signed into law on August 3, 2010. The Federal Probation Department and the Federal Public Defenders Offices can be contacted by family members to see if someone who will benefit from the amendments and are eligible for a Motion for Reduction of Sentence. If you feel that your case is eligible for a reduction, you need to contact your attorney who represented you on the underlying charge or the Federal Public Defenders Office in your district.