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Exemption from Mandatory Minimum Sentences Narrowed in Drug Case

May 18, 2021, 4:20 PM

A convicted drug offender will likely get a harsher sentence after the Eleventh Circuit took a narrow reading Tuesday of a First Step Act provision giving offenders with little criminal history an exemption from mandatory minimum sentences.

The court’s opinion focuses on how to read the word “and” in the First Step Act’s “safety valve” provision, which instructs federal judges to sentence certain convicted drug offenders with little or no criminal history “without regard to any statutory mandatory minimum sentence.”

Under the provision, some offenders are eligible for safety valve relief only if they don’t have more than four criminal ...

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