Published on: Friday, March 17, 2023

In 1990, a Virgin Island man is sentenced to 30 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute crack and marijuana. Not long after, in an unrelated case, he is sentenced to serve 10 years for voluntary manslaughter, to run consecutively to the drug sentence. Near the end of his drug sentence, Congress passes the First Step Act of 2018, which allowed those sentenced under the federal government's previous 100:1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powdered cocaine—like this guy—to seek a sentence reduction. Inmate: My unconscionably long drug sentence is already completed; can you knock the time off my consecutive sentence for manslaughter? Third Circuit: Creative idea, but no. The law only permits “imposition of a reduced sentence,” and a sentence can’t be reduced if it has already been completed.

The case is United States v. Brow, No. 22-2203 (3d Cir. Mar. 10, 2023).