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United States v. Stowe

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

September 25, 2019

United States of America
v.
Lawrence Stowe

          ORDER

          Gray H. Miller, Senior United States District Judge.

         Before the court is the defendant's motion to modify sentence (Dkt. 248) and the government's response in opposition (Dkt. 249). The defendant's motion was filed pursuant to The Compassionate Release Statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A), as amended by the First Step Act on December 21, 2018. After a careful review of the defendant's motion and the government's response, the record, the pleadings and the applicable law, the court finds that the defendant's motion should be denied.

         I.

         The Compassionate Release Statute

         The compassionate release statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A), as amended by the First Step Act on December 21, 2018, provides in pertinent part:

(c) Modification of an Imposed Term of Imprisonment.-The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed except that-
(1) in any case-
(A) the court, upon motion of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or upon motion of the defendant after the defendant has fully exhausted all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the Bureau of Prisons to bring a motion on the defendant’s behalf or the lapse of 30 days from the receipt of such a request by the warden of the defendant’s facility, whichever is earlier, may reduce the term of imprisonment (and may impose a term of probation or supervised release with or without conditions that does not exceed the unserved portion of the original term of imprisonment), after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if it finds that-
(i) extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction . . .
and that such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission . . . .

         Further, 28 U.S.C. § 994(t) provides: “The Commission, in promulgating general policy statements regarding the sentencing modification provisions in section 3582(c)(1)(A) of title 18, shall describe what should be considered extraordinary and compelling reasons for sentence reduction, including the criteria to be applied and a list of specific examples. Rehabilitation of the defendant alone shall not be considered an extraordinary and compelling reason.” Accordingly, the relevant policy statement of the Commission is binding on the Court. See Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 827 (2010) (where 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) permits a sentencing reduction based on a retroactive guideline amendment, “if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission, ” the Commission’s pertinent policy statements are binding on the court).

         The Sentencing Guidelines policy statement appears at § 1B1.13, and provides that the Court may grant release if “extraordinary and compelling circumstances” exist, “after considering the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), to the extent that they are applicable, ” and the Court determines that “the defendant is not a danger to the safety of any other person or to the community, as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).”

         Critically, in application note 1 to the policy statement, the Commission identifies the “extraordinary and compelling reasons” that may justify compassionate release. The note provides as follows:

1. Extraordinary and Compelling Reasons.-Provided the defendant meets the requirements of subdivision (2) [regarding absence of danger to the community], extraordinary and compelling reasons exist ...

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