Curious about Kimbrough v. United States and how it matters? Well, then, meet Anthony J. Irving, whose grim life has just changed marginally for the better.
Irving was 20 years old when a federal judge sentenced him to 168 months in prison for selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer. That was in October 1994. Now, Irving is 35 years old and still in prison. But in a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth agreed with Irving's public defender Mary Manning Petras that Irving's sentence should be reduced to 135 months.
The sentence reduction comports with the Supreme Court's reasoning in Kimbrough, calling into question the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences. Argued Petras:
"While his conduct was inexcusable...there is no reason to sentence Mr. Irving to a term of incarceration dramatically more severe than a sentence that would be imposed on a defendant who committed the same acts and had the same criminal history, but sold and possessed powder, not crack, cocaine."
Prosecutors urged no mercy, noting that Irving "grinned and looked at the government's main witness after the verdict was announced and made a slashing announcement across his throat." Irving also flipped off the jury and, once in prison, had a series of fights before, apparently, he began to settle down about 10 years ago.
Fighting, of course, may be pure survival mechanism in prison for a 20-year-old. In any event, Judge Lamberth noted approvingly that Irving has completed his GED while in prison, as well as assorted drug education programs. A reduction in sentence, accordingly, is warranted.