Who is Tarahrick Terry? Cocaine offender won't get relief under First Step Act

Tarahrick Terry was subjected to 188 months’ imprisonment with 6 years of supervised release on charges of possession with intent in 2008


                            Who is Tarahrick Terry? Cocaine offender won't get relief under First Step Act
According to the opinion in Terry V United States, a crack offender is eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act only under certain conditions (Image used for representation: Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In a hearing for Tarahrick Terry v United States, the Supreme Court ruled that a crack offender is not eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act under certain conditions. According to the opinion in Terry v United States, certain low-level crack-cocaine offenses are eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act only if the offender was convicted of a crack offense that triggered a mandatory minimum sentence previously.

Congress had established mandatory-minimum penalties for certain drug offenses in 1986. That legislation defined three penalties for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The first two carried mandatory minimum sentences based on drug quantity but the third penalty differed from the first two. Neither did it carry a mandatory minimum sentence, nor did it depend on drug quantity.

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Who is Tarahrick Terry?

Tarahrick Terry was subjected to the third penalty when he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute an unspecified amount of crack in 2008. The District Court determined that his offense involved about 4 grams of crack. Now, during the hearing of Terry v United States, the petitioner contended that he is eligible to receive a sentence reduction for his 2008 crack cocaine conviction. Terry sought a reduction in his sentence on the ground that he was convicted of a crack offense modified by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 brought by Congress, which increased the crack quantity thresholds for mandatory minimum sentence. However, Congress did not make this change retroactive until 2018, when it enacted the First Step Act. The District Court denied Terry's motion, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

The district court denied his motion on the basis that Terry did not commit a 'covered offense' and thus was not eligible for relief under the First Step Act, which made retroactive the statutory penalties for certain offenses committed before August 3, 2010. Tarahrick Terry pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute a substance containing a 'detectable' amount of cocaine. Based on his prior convictions, the statutory term of imprisonment was zero to 30 years. The district court sentenced him to 188 months’ imprisonment with six years of supervised release.

What is First Step Act?

The First Step Act formally known as the 'Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act', is a bipartisan criminal justice bill passed by the 115th Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in December 2018. The act was the result of an effort to improve criminal justice outcomes, as well as to reduce the size of the federal prison population. The First Step Act intends to do two things, cut unnecessarily long federal sentences and improve conditions in federal prison.

'So much for the First Step Act'

Internet slammed the ruling given in the case of Terry v United States and posted tweets like, "So much for the First Step Act," and "Well done. One wouldn't want the common people to have the same possibilities as the rich and powerful to get or stay out of prison." One user wrote, "so plainly and outright an attack on Black Americans by keeping them in prison." 



 



 



 

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