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More crack sentences, more reductions

More drug defendants have had their sentences reduced under the crack cocaine amendment in the Eastern District of Virginia than in any other federal district court in the country.

In 2007, the U.S. Sentencing Commission amended federal sentencing guidelines to provide for a downward adjustment by two base offense levels for crack cocaine offenses. The commission has released its latest preliminary report tracking the impact of the amendment, which has kept Virginia federal courts busy.

In data reported through January 21, the Eastern District led the nation in motions filed and granted. Of the 18,109 motions for sentence reduction filed since 2007, 1,233 have been filed in the Eastern District, and 763 – nearly 62 percent – of those have been granted.

Florida’s Middle District edged out the Western District of Virginia. The Western District came in third in the country, with 804 motions filed and 513 granted, or nearly 64 percent.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also has seen the highest proportion of motions filed: 4,177, and 2,961 of those motions have been granted in this circuit.

Richmond always has had a lot of crack cases, a federal public defender explained in December 2007, because many cases that typically would have been prosecuted in state court were handled in federal court under Project Exile.
By Deborah Elkins

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