The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 and Its Affect on the Convicted in Virginia

For thirty years, a now defunct sentencing guideline has been applied to those convicted of crimes involving crack cocaine. The old guidelines have long been called unfair, and for more than three decades advocacy groups such as Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) have been working to undo the damage they have done.


Under the old law, there was a serious discrepancy between the sentencing of those caught with crack cocaine and the powder form. Five grams of crack cocaine and 500 grams of powder cocaine carried identical five year sentences. This 100 to 1 sentencing ratio was especially unfair as the vast majority of people caught with crack were young, impoverished black males. Those caught with the powder form of cocaine, on the other hand, were generally middle class and white. In order to right this wrong, Congress overwhelmingly approved the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The bill's primary sponsor, Senator Durbin, believes that the new law will bring sentencing down to more reasonable, fair levels.


"The sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine has contributed to the imprisonment of African Americans at six times the rate of whites and to the United States' position as the world's leader in incarcerations. Congress has talked about addressing this injustice long enough; it's time to act," said Senator Durbin.


Fair Sentencing Act is Being Applied Retroactively in Virginia


As of November 1, 2011, the Fair Sentencing Act is allowing many inmates in jail on crack cocaine related charges to be released years earlier than expected. The sentence reductions average three years and at least 50 individuals in Virginia have already been released.


However, getting an order for early release under the Fair Sentencing Act in Virginia is not automatic. In order to receive a shortened sentence, inmates must request that their sentences be reviewed by a judge. Currently, the Sentencing Commission estimates that almost 12,000 federal inmates will be eligible to have their sentences reduced.


How to Get Help Reducing a Sentence Under the Fair Sentencing Act


If you or someone you know is currently in prison because of a crack cocaine sentence in Virginia, it may be possible to get the sentence reduced. The best way to do so is to get help from an experienced Virginia Beach criminal defense attorney. At Tavss Fletcher our attorneys have built a career defending the rights of those accused of a crime in Virginia. Let our experience work for you, contact a lawyer at 757.625.1214 today.