The law in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will not allow the extension and shortening of sentences for insignificant crack cocaine offenders who are already in jail. The Supreme Court certified the move, and although Justice Sonia Sotomayor concurred, she urged Congress to rectify the conclusion.
In the 1980s, crack cocaine use was rampant, and Congress wanted to curb its use. Therefore, it ratified a criminal law that all possessions would warrant an equal sentence duration.
However, in 2010, there was a change to allow low-level carriers of crack cocaine to have a lesser sentence. Nonetheless, it only applied to future convicts and not the current batch of prisoners.
Amendment of the criminal law
All this changed in 2018 when an amendment in the criminal law system might have justified the wrong conviction that the minor prisoners of crack cocaine should qualify for shortened sentences. The amendment is known as The First Step Act, and it allowed plaintiffs in possession of a small amount of crack cocaine to appeal their sentences.
However, questions arose about if the amendment applied to convicts who had small amounts of crack cocaine or the ones who carried a lot of it. The judge held the opinion that other convicts were professionals. Therefore, the court should not compare them with occasional users.
Drug dealers should receive a long sentence even if the police arrest them with a small amount. But if the police arrest an occasional user with significant amounts of crack cocaine, the person will have a shorter sentence.
A recent case study indicates that a convict possessed 3.9 grams of the drug. He received a prison sentence of 15-and-a-half years. However, he used The First Step Act to ask for a reduced sentence.
Nonetheless, the lower courts found it hard to fulfill his request because he is an established criminal and drug dealer. Eventually, they finally had to reduce it since they had to respect the criminal law.
Nonetheless, Judge Sotomayor called upon Congress to use the available resources to challenge and fix The First Step Act.