Amicus Brief on First Step Act

Tiffany Wright, Edward Williams (adjunct professors and co-directors of Howard Law’s Human and Civil Rights Clinic), and Ciarra Carr (Orrick Racial Justice Fellow), submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Ezralee Kelley regarding the proper scope of resentencing under Section 404(b) of the First Step Act of 2018.

The brief, written on behalf of the Clinic and the National Association for Public Defense as amici curiae, details the history of the unjust sentencing regime Congress imposed following the emergence of crack cocaine in the 1980s, and discusses how that regime facilitated militarized and targeted policing, over prosecution, and mass incarceration of Black people.

The brief urges the Court to grant Ms. Kelley’s petition for certiorari and to hold, consistent with the text and purpose of the First Step Act, that district courts should conduct fulsome resentencing proceedings that give defendants the benefit of all intervening case law and amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines.

This broad interpretation is a step toward ameliorating the unwarranted cost of harsh sentencing for crack cocaine offenses, which has disproportionately impacted the Black community.