In 2014, Florida legislators relaxed a harsh mandatory-minimum law that many agreed had excessively punished people convicted of trafficking prescription pills. But hundreds of prisoners remain imprisoned, stuck in a legal limbo that lawmakers seem in no hurry to fix.
The same group that led reforms in drug sentencing behind this month’s mass prison release in Oklahoma has proposed a new constitutional amendment, to go to voters next year, easing sentencing enhancements in nonviolent crimes.
The Justice Department’s interpretation of crack-cocaine sentence reduction policy has opened a rift between DOJ and White House supporters over the First Step Act’s sentencing reforms. The effect has been to keep hundreds of people in prison, defense lawyers say.
Last year, a Richmond, Virginia-based federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing trial for Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 when the crimes were committed in 2002, citing two Supreme Court opinions issued subsequent to his sentencing in state courts.