Bipartisan Judiciary Committee Members Introduce Legislation to Clarify Retroactivity of Crack Cocaine Sentencing Reform

Oct 01, 2021

Legislation comes on the heels of SCOTUS decision in Terry v. United States; clarifies that retroactivity is available to all offenders who were sentenced for a crack cocaine offense before the Fair Sentencing Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) joined House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime Chair Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) to introduce the bipartisan Terry Technical Correction Act, which clarifies that all offenders who were sentenced for a crack cocaine offense before the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 can apply for its retroactive application under Section 404 of the First Step Act, including individuals convicted of the lowest level crack offenses. Section 404 of the First Step Act allows crack cocaine offenders to request a sentence reduction pursuant to the Fair Sentencing Act.

Earlier this year in Terry v. United States, 141 S. Ct. 1858 (2021), the Supreme Court held that low-level crack offenders, whose conduct did not trigger a mandatory minimum penalty, do not qualify for resentencing under Section 404 of the First Step Act. The effect of this holding is that individuals convicted of the offenses with the lowest levels of crack cocaine are not eligible for retroactive relief, whereas other offenders are.

“The Terry Technical Correction Act is a commonsense solution clarifying the potential sentencing reductions to low-level crack offenses in the First Step Act,” said Rep. Owens. “I’m proud to support this legislation and its efforts to reduce the rate of recidivism in Utah and across the country.”

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Cory Booker (D-NJ); and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

The Terry Technical Correction Act is supported by the following organizations: American Civil Liberties Union, American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, Dream Corps JUSTICE, Drug Policy Alliance, Due Process Institute, FAMM, Federal Public and Community Defenders, Justice Action Network, Justice Roundtable, Law Enforcement Leaders, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Major Cities Chiefs Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National District Attorneys Association, Niskanen Center, Prison Fellowship, R Street Institute, Right on Crime, and The Sentencing Project.

Full text of the legislation is available here.


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