Reducing sentences has been a common topic lately in the United States. Recently, a judge rethought a sentence that had a profound impact on an inmate named Francois Holloway.
Holloway was released from prison three years earlier than expected thanks to U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, New York.
Although federal trial judges don’t commonly possess extraordinary power when it comes to sentencing decisions as prosecutors rely on set in stone minimum punishment laws, typically new evidence or excessive legal error are the only ways a reduction on their part is possible.
However, judges can create a sense of public or personal pressure that causes prosecutors to rethink their sentencing decisions. When these types of situations occur, such as Holloway’s sentence reduction, it reveals attitudes continue to change in these types of circumstances, looking at the criminal justice system and its policies in a new light.
Holloway was sentenced to 57 years in prison in 1996 for being a part of armed carjackings, but Judge Gleeson who had put Holloway away, attempted to work with prosecutors for years in order to reduce Holloway’s sentence, before he was released early.
Which kind of cases does this deal typically happen to though? Thus far, these types of reductions have occurred for those who fought against sentencing that seemed underserved compared to the crime they committed.
In most cases, the defendant at hand decided against a plea deal and then lost during their trial. As a result, they were given a much more extensive prison sentence than if they were to have pleaded guilty.
These types of cases and this shift in the criminal justice system might be more common as 2016 approaches. Instead of focusing on a prison sentence, one might look towards court ordered rehabilitation if the consequence seems fitting for the crime.
However, not everyone agrees on this. In the same article, “Don Mihalek, vice president of law enforcement relations at the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association said that after the-fact reductions send the wrong message,” according to Joe Palazzo, author of the article “Judges Rethink Sentences.”
Said Mihalek: “Every criminal has their day in court, and that’s the bottom line.”