A 19-year-old Detroit-area man convicted of putting child pornography online will not spend a day in prison; a bank robber and a barber convicted in a drug case will each serve two fewer years in prison; A developer convicted of filling in wetlands may escape prison entirely. Six weeks after U.S. District Court judges won sweeping authority to hand down sentences of their choosing, Detroit judges have given lighter sentences in about 10 percent of cases, found a Detroit News review of more than 100 sentences issued since the rules took effect Jan. 12.
Judges across the ideological spectrum are cautiously using their newfound flexibility, especially in cases where the guidelines required them to give short sentences of less than a year, the News says. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has rewritten plea agreements — dubbed “lo-high deals” — to allow prosecutors to withdraw from the agreement if a judge opts to impose a sentence below the agreed-upon range. The defendant can withdraw if the judge goes above the guidelines.