By Bridgette Odom Tomasetti, Esq.
In mid-July 2015, Demaryius Thomas, and his mother Katina Thomas, found out that Ms. Thomas would be released from prison almost two years early by a commutation order issued by President Obama. For her involvement in selling drugs, Ms. Thomas was sentenced to a prison sentence of close to 20 years under the federal sentencing guidelines in place in 2000. Due to recent changes in federal sentencing guidelines and drug laws, Ms. Thomas became eligible to have her case reconsidered and she filed a petition for commutation asking the President to modify her sentence.
Recently, it appears that a dramatic shift in federal drug sentencing and punishment is gaining ground. In July 2015, the President called for criminal justice reform at the NAACP’s annual convention and commuted the sentence of 46 federal prisoners to allow them to be released from prison earlier than their sentence allows. In 2010, the President signed the Fair Sentencing Act to reduce penalties for crack cocaine cases. Then, in 2014, it was announced that the US Sentencing Commission was modifying some sentencing guidelines and applying those retroactively. Through the end of May 2015, a little more than 12,000 prisoners petitioned to be released early under the new guidelines. Approximately 9,500, or 79 percent, of those motions were granted, including that of Ms. Thomas.
Now, the efforts to reduce or eliminate prison time for some federal drug crimes is even gaining bi-partisan support and appears to be headed to the US House of Representatives for a vote. Congressional action could change current sentencing and crime classification laws and could even impact closed cases. These changes are significant as they allow those with pending cases to argue for other case dispositions such as rehabilitation and treatment programs, alternatives to incarceration and/or probation.
The Criminal Justice Practice Group at the Feldmann Nagel law firm are highly experienced attorneys in federal drug cases and can help you review your case to determine if you could be eligible for a reduced sentence or an alternative to prison program. To learn more about your contact our expert Criminal Law Group at 1-(888) 458-0991.