AP

Supreme Court rules for inmates seeking reduced prison terms

Jun 27, 2022, 11:11 AM
The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The court in its nex...
The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The court in its next term that starts next Monday will consider a Mississippi case that could slash reproductive rights nationwide and even asks the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court made it easier Monday for certain prison inmates to seek shorter sentences under a bipartisan 2018 federal law aimed at reducing racial disparities in prison terms for cocaine crimes.

The justices ruled 5-4 that trial judges who are asked to resentence inmates may look at a wide range of factors, including some that have nothing to do with crack cocaine offenses that had produced longer stints in prison, disproportionately for people of color.

The high court settled a disagreement among the nation’s appellate courts over what judges should do in these cases.

The case before the justices involved Carlos Concepcion, who is serving a 19-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing at least five grams of crack cocaine with an intent to distribute.

But the length of Concepcion’s prison term really was determined by previous state court convictions that made him a career offender under federal law.

In 2019, Concepcion asked for a reduced sentence under the First Step Act that President Donald Trump signed into law a year earlier. Concepcion argued that the law made him eligible for a shorter term, but he also pointed to his earlier convictions, one of which had been thrown out and others of which were no longer considered violent crimes under intervening Supreme Court decisions.

Still, the judge refused to consider changes to his sentence.

“The District Court in this case declined to consider petitioner Carlos Concepcion’s arguments that intervening changes of law and fact supported his motion, erroneously believing that it did not have the discretion to do so,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her opinion for the court.

Still, she wrote, judges remain free to leave the original sentence in place.

An unusual group of justices joined her, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch.

In a dissent for four members of the court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the majority misconstrued the 2018 law.

“The text of the First Step Act authorizes district courts to reduce sentences based only on changes to the crack-cocaine sentencing ranges, not based on other unrelated changes that have occurred since the original sentencing,” Kavanaugh wrote. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

A bus driver fills up at a gas station in Brooklyn on August 11, 2022 in New York City. While fuel ...
Associated Press

Explainer: Why gas prices are falling

U.S. consumers are breathing a bit easier now that gasoline prices have come down from record levels, but pump prices are still high, and the two-month slide could be nearing an end.
1 day ago
(KSL TV)...
SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer

Hot summer nights: US in July sets new record for overnight warmth

America sizzled through some hot nights last month, enough to make history.
1 day ago
SAN ANSELMO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 12:  In this photo illustration a bottle of Johnson & Johnso...
Associated Press

J&J to end sales of baby powder with talc globally next year

Johnson & Johnson is pulling baby powder containing talc worldwide next year after it did the same in the U.S. and Canada amid thousands of lawsuits claiming it caused cancer.
1 day ago
In this still image from video, author Salman Rushdie is taken on a stretcher to a helicopter for t...
JOSHUA GOODMAN Associated Press

Author Salman Rushdie stabbed on lecture stage in New York

Salman Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats from Iran in the 1980s, has been stabbed in the neck and abdomen by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York.
1 day ago
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the American Freedom Tour at the Austin Convention...
LINDSAY WHITEHURST Associated Press

Timeline: Events leading up to FBI search of Trump’s home

The FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate has already sent reverberations across the country even as new details emerge about what federal agents were looking for in the investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence.
1 day ago
The notice filed by the Justice Department to the U.S. District Court South District of Florida inf...
MICHAEL BALSAMO, ZEKE MILLER and ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press

FBI seized ‘top secret’ documents from Trump home

Court papers show that the FBI recovered documents labeled “top secret” from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Supreme Court rules for inmates seeking reduced prison terms