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The Wall Street Journal Blog quotes Jeff Ifrah in “New Sentencing Guidelines Go Easier on Crack Defendants, Older Folks.”

November 1, 2010, 2:45 PM ET
New Sentencing Guidelines Go Easier on Crack Defendants, Older Folks
By Nathan Koppel

The US Sentencing Commission today amended its sentencing guidelines, which, as it turns out, is good news for older defendants and those convicted of crack cocaine offenses.

The new average sentence for trafficking in crack will be 101 months, down 13.7 percent from the previous average, according to this news release from the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

To be eligible for a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence, one has to be busted with 28 grams of crack (up from 5 grams).

Over at the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, Doug Berman breaks down the new guidelines, which were a byproduct of the Fair Sentencing Act signed by President Obama in August. (Click here for a Denver Post article on the changes.)

Older defendants also stand to gain under the amended guidelines. A clarification in the guidelines gives federal judges more discretion in considering a defendant’s age when imposing a sentence, WSJ colleague Chad Bray reports. (The link to the article is not yet available).

Judges in particular are more likely to grant downward sentence departures for older defendants, of which there have been many prominent ones in recent years (think John Rigas, Bernie Ebbers and Arthur Nadel), WSJ reports.

In the past, defendants have had the option to seek “compassionate release” from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons due to a life-threatening illness. But judges and prosecutors often felt that “if you’re old enough to do the crime, do the time,” Jeff Ifrah, a white-collar lawyer at Ifrah PLLC in Washington, told WSJ.

But judges now may have more flexibility to take age into consideration, attorneys said.



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