Bloomberg Law
May 27, 2021, 5:59 PM

First Step Act Sentencing Split Deepens as Last Circuit Weighs In

Bernie Pazanowski
Bernie Pazanowski

A district court resentencing a drug defendant under the First Step Act must consider all changes in law since the defendant was originally sentenced, not just the retroactivity of changes in minimum sentences under the Fair Sentencing Act, the Third Circuit said Thursday.

The Fair Sentencing Act was adopted to correct the disparity in sentencing between drug crimes involving crack and powder cocaine—those involving crack cocaine got much higher sentences. The First Step Act retroactively applied those changes to crimes committed before the Fair Sentencing Act became law.

The Third Circuit majority’s holding placed the court in the middle of ...