Longer Sentences for Drug Offenders Have No Greater Deterrent Effect According U.S.S.G Report- Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Hope Lefeber Discusses the Report

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Though the rates of recidivism for drug crimes are high, longer sentences do not have a deterrent effect.

Hope Lefeber

Recently, the United States Sentencing Commission issued a report entitled, “Recidivism Among Offenders Receiving Retroactive Sentence Reductions: The 2007 Crack Cocaine Amendment.” Criminal Defense Attorney Hope C. Lefeber provides a quick look at some of the report’s most interesting and important findings.

The report discusses the effects of the “2007 Crack Cocaine Amendment”—the two-level (approx. 20%) sentencing reduction given to those convicted of crack cocaine offenses. Specifically, the report examines recidivism of crack cocaine offenders who were released immediately before and after implementation of the change in sentencing. The report’s main question was, “were offenders who received a reduced sentence retroactively under the 2007 Crack Cocaine Amendment more likely to recidivate than similarly situated offenders who did not receive a reduced sentence?”

In answering this question, it traced both sets of offenders’ actions in the community for five years, to see whether (a) they were convicted for a new crack cocaine offense; (b) they were re-arrested on suspicion of a crack cocaine offense, or (c) they had their supervised release revoked because of a new crack cocaine offense. After analyzing the data, the report concluded that there was no evidence that the offenders who served reduced sentences under the 2007 Amendment had higher recidivism rates than those offenders who served full sentences.

In other words, the study shows that those who received the reduced sentences for crack cocaine crimes were not any more likely to reoffend when compared to those who did not receive the reduction. Quite troubling, however, is that the recidivism rate was between 43% and 48%, meaning that one out of every two crack cocaine offenders reoffends. Ms. Lefeber explains that the bottom line from this report is that a longer sentence has no greater deterrent effect than the reduced sentence, as both reoffend at the same rate.

Hope Lefeber is a federal criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia. With over 30 years experience, she is recognized by Superlawyers and is ranked by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyers in the United States. She is a former Enforcement Attorney for the United States Securities & Exchange Commission. Ms. Lefeber’s key areas of practice include criminal defense of business and corporate fraud, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, tax fraud and other white collar crimes, conspiracy and drug offenses. Learn more about her at http://www.hopelefeber.com.

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