Another federal judge has found that the criteria for compassionate release, contained in the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, is inconsistent with the statutory changes made by the First Step Act. Yesterday, Federal Judge Sim Lake reduced Arturo Cantu-Rivera’s prior sentence of two concurrent life sentences to time served.
Judge Lake based the sentence reduction on two grounds. Judge Lake first found that Cantu-Rivera met the age-related criteria under the Guidelines. But more importantly, Judge Lake found that U.S.S.G. § 1B1.13 comm. n.(1)(D) was inconsistent with the statutory changes made by Congress through the First Step Act. See page 3, n.1 (“Because the current version of the Guideline policy statement conflicts with the First Step Act, the newly-enacted statutory provisions must be given effect.”). He then used that very criteria to justify the sentence reduction.
As I’ve been blogging about for the past week, the compassionate release statute, as amended by the First Step Act, can be used by federal judges to provide a second look for people in federal prison who received long sentences and have a demonstrated record of rehabilitation. I write about this second look provision in a new essay called Second Looks & Second Chances and in a sample brief, both of which I posted online.