Sentencing Modifications – A district court may modify a sentence under Section 404 of the First Step Act and 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) and in doing so must consider all § 3553 factors, including defendant’s post-sentence rehabilitation.
Jamal E. Easter was convicted on crack cocaine and firearm charges in 2008. He received a 228-month sentence which was reduced to 195 months after filing an unopposed motion in 2014 for retroactive sentence reduction under Amendment 782. In 2019, Easter filed a motion for resentencing under the First Step Act in which the district court determined the sentencing guideline level would not change and did not exercise its discretion to consider any other factors before imposing the same sentence, including defendant’s post-sentence rehabilitation.
The Court reviewed Easter’s denied motion for resentencing de novo as an issue of first impression for statutory interpretation. Looking to the plain text in 18 U.S.C. § 3582, § 404 of the First Step Act, and § 3553, the Court held a district court must consider all § 3553 factors in deciding whether to exercise its discretion under § 404 since each statute referred to imposing a sentence. The Court inferred Congress’ intent was to view the district court’s role the same when it imposed an initial sentence as when it imposed a sentence under the First Step Act. The Court further held it was more predictable, straightforward, and reviewable to apply the § 3553 factors under § 404 and nothing in § 404 said the factors did not apply. The Court vacated defendant’s sentence and remanded to district court for resentencing.
Appeal from the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Opinion by Greenaway, Jr., joined by Jordan and Krause.
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