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Prisoners can seek reductions of crack cocaine sentences

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded two judges in the Northern District of Indiana should take another look at two defendants’ requests to have their sentences for crack cocaine offenses reduced based on revised sentencing guidelines.

Adolfo Wren and Anthony Moton asked the District Court to cut their sentences under 18 U.S.C. Section 3582(c)(2), but the judges declined. Both men are serving sentences below that normal statutory floor because they provided valuable assistance to prosecutors. Each received 100 months in prison, lower than the 121-151 months of the original sentencing range. The new range is 100-125 months for Wren and 84-105 months for Moton.

The District judges concluded that U.S.S.G. Section 5G1.1 prevents the men from receiving lower sentences because that section provides that when all or part of a guideline range lies below a statutory minimum sentence, the statutory minimum becomes the lower bound of the range, giving Moton an amended range of 120 and Wren a range of 120-125 months. The prosecutor argued that only defendants who are beneficiaries of a lower range can receive lower sentences.

“Only one decision we have found deals with the situation in which Wren and Moton found themselves — an original Guideline range above the statutory floor, a sentence below that floor because of substantial assistance to the prosecutor, and a retroactive change to the Guidelines that (apart from §5G1.1) permits a reduction in the sentence. United States v. Liberse, 688 F.3d 1198 (11th Cir. 2012), holds that in these circumstances the district court may grant a motion under §3582(c)(2) without resetting the Guideline range at the statutory minimum,” Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote.

“The Sentencing Commission may want to take a close look at the way §1B1.10(b)(1) works when the original sentencing range is at a presumptive statutory minimum. It is difficult to see why prisoners in that situation who received a substantial-assistance or safety-valve sentence should be excluded from a retroactive Guideline reduction, while prisoners whose original ranges were just slightly above the statutory floor are eligible for the benefit of the retroactive change.”

The two defendants can seek relief under Section 3582(c)(2) as the guidelines stand, the judges held, and the 7th Circuit sent the cases back to the lower court so the District judges may exercise the discretion they possess in the cases United States of America v. Adolfo Wren and Anthony Moton, 12-1565, 12-1580.

 

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