Prisoners eligible for a reduction of their sentence under reduced crack-cocaine guidelines pursuant to the Fair Sentencing Act made retroactive June 30, 2011, can begin petitioning judges for a revised sentence beginning November 1, 2011. Thousands of defendants sentenced under the disparate and unfair 100:1 ratio of powder cocaine to crack cocaine are now eligible for consideration under the new 18:1 ratio.
Prisoners who used weapons during their crimes or have significant criminal histories will be eligible for review, but the judge has the discretion not to grant any relief. The presentation of meaningful information to the court for a reduction in the sentence for those who are eligible may be necessary to get the reductions particularly in these types of cases. Approximately 12,000 offenders are eligible for court review.
The reductions are not automatic. A lawyer is needed to file paperwork in court for the prisoner seeking a reduction, and it would have to be approved by the judge. Prisoners do not necessarily have to appear in court unless their case is unusual or more complicated, however prosecutors will also be allowed to weigh in on the request for the reduction.