Court: Reduced crack sentences not retroactive

By

CINCINNATI (AP) — An appeals court has found that thousands of prisoners convicted of crack cocaine offenses aren't eligible for reduced penalties if they were sentenced before 2010.

That's when Congress passed a law to eliminate sentencing disparities that disproportionately affected offenders who were black.

In its Tuesday decision, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati vacated a May decision from a three-judge panel of the court that found prisoners convicted under the old guidelines have a right to resentencing hearings.

In Tuesday's deeply divided decision, 10 of the court's judges disagreed, saying Congress didn't mean for the law to apply retroactively.

Seven judges dissented, with one justice writing that the majority opinion "continues to treat African-American offenders more harshly than white offenders, despite Congress' aim to the contrary."

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.