Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Supreme Court denies ‘thousands’ of inmates a chance at shorter sentences

By 37ci3 Mar15,2024



WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court On Friday, a convicted drug dealer seeking a shorter sentence under the 2018 law was sentenced, potentially dealing a blow to thousands of federal prison inmates.

In an unusual ideological alignment, the court, split 6-3, said Mark Pulsipher, who pleaded guilty in 2020 to distributing methamphetamines, could not benefit from a provision. The law of the first stepsignificant sentencing reform legislation.

At issue was whether Pulsipher was subject to the mandatory 15-year sentence or the “safety cap” provision, which allows for lower sentences for non-violent, low-level drug dealers.

According to liberal Justice Elena Kagan, the court said Pulsipher did not meet the necessary requirements. Five of the court’s six conservatives joined him in the majority.

The provision in question provides a list of criteria for imposing sentences below mandatory minimums. The court ruled that Pulsifer must meet all of the conditions, rejecting his argument that he could meet some and still receive relief. The decision was partly based on the court’s interpretation the word “and”.

Congress “extended safety valve relief to some, not all, defendants,” Kagan wrote.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the remaining two liberal justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Gorsuch complained that the court significantly limited the purpose of the First Step Act.

“Adoption of the government’s preferred interpretation guarantees that thousands more people in the federal justice system will be denied a chance — just a chance — at receiving an individualized sentence. For them, the First Step Act offers no hope.”



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By 37ci3

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