A case out of Kentucky that’s made it to the U.S. Supreme Court could affect hundreds of Americans who are currently in prison for charges related to crack cocaine.
The case was brought by William Freeman, who was arrested in Louisville for possession of crack and a loaded firearm. He accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to jail. While he was incarcerated, the federal sentencing guidelines for crack possession were changed, meaning Freeman would be eligible for a lesser sentence. His attempts to have his sentence changed were blocked, though, as courts ruled that he must honor his plea bargain.
The high court heard the case Wednesday. U of L law professor Sam Marcosson read the transcripts of the hearing, and he thinks Freeman has a good chance of winning.
“My expectation would be that Mr. Freeman—although this is somewhat speculative—that Mr. Freeman may get his chance to at least argue for a sentence reduction,” he says.
Marcosson says if the court rules for Freeman, hundreds of other prisoners who took plea deals on crack charges could file to have their sentences reduced. Beyond that, it likely won’t make many waves.
“Only in the broadest of senses in that if it reinforces public perception about the difference between crack cocaine sentences and powder cocaine sentences,” says Marcosson.
Possession of the more-expensive powder cocaine typically carries a lighter sentence than crack possession.