The push for lighter sentences for non-violent criminals, particularly those found guilty of drug crimes, has been going forward for the better part of the past year, with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder endorsing shorter sentences for some drug traffickers while urging for the release of those serving excessive time.
But the push for light sentences may be going too far, especially in jurisdictions that were already giving lenient punishments to drug offenders who pleaded guilty, The New York Times reports.
Over the past year, the typical sentences for drug traffickers in Brooklyn federal court have changed from three years in prison, to now only a few months or even no prison time, according to The Times.
That’s because, even before the nationwide push for lighter sentences, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn sometimes let drug smugglers plead guilty and cooperate with authorities in exchange for a shorter sentence. Now that the U.S. Sentencing Commission has suggested reduced sentences for all drug crimes, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn believe they have to “sweeten the deal” even more for those who cooperate, according to The Times.
“As a result, drug-courier defendants can now face sentencing guidelines that suggest no prison time,” The Times reports.
This had led to some slaps on the wrist for fairly serious crimes.
Marvin Douglas, who was caught at JFK after bringing in between 300 and 400 grams of cocaine, ended up having a sentence of zero to six months recommended. Even more extreme, Phylicia Lowe, who attempted to bring in 1,000 grams of cocaine inside of food cans, ended up serving just one day behind bars. The judge in the case, John Gleeson, wondered whether a “modicum of jail” was appropriate for her crime, so he gave her four months of home detention, as well.
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