Drug offender Kayla Renee Buchanan, a 30-year-old mother of two, may have made the nation's first request to have her sentence reduced retroactively under newly approved federal drug sentencing guidelines. 

Kayla's sense of urgency to be reunited with her children — including an infant girl, just two months old when mom went to prison — is a reminder that justice delayed can be justice denied for children as well as parents. Particularly moving are Kayla's hand-written letters to her sentencing judge. She followed with a legal motion written without a lawyer. The judge gently rejected her request because the sentencing changes haven't been approved yet.   

The Clemency Report wishes Kayla and her children the best of luck in reducing her crack cocaine sentence from 151 months to 130 months. And a heartfelt congratulations to Kayla for getting her GED. And completing drug treatment class. "I haven't gotten in no trouble at all (in prison)," she writes the judge. "You can look at my prison file. I am tring so hard." 

You go, girl. We print one of Kayla's letters to the judge, plus her early 3582 motion asking a sentence reduction.  

In April, the U.S. Sentencing Commission approved an across-the-board sentencing guideline reduction for drug offenders. The changereduces the guideline level by two points for all drug weights. It will take effect November 1 for newly sentenced drug offenders, reducing future federal drug sentence lengths about 18% on average. (Congress and the President can overturn the change but aren't expected to do so.).

However, the commission has not decided whether to make the new guidelines retroactive to those already in prison — people like Kayla, who lives in FCI Aliceville in Alabama. The commission will hold a public hearing June 10 and vote July 18. If retroactivity is approved, the decision will make about 51,000 federal drug inmates eligible to request a sentence reduction. Not all would receive an adjustment, but a majority might. 

Kayla was sentenced in 2011 as part of a big drug round-up in Johnson City, Tenn. 

In February, she sent the following letter to her sentencing judge, J. Ronnie Greer, a 62-year-old Bush appointee. 

 

 

Here's a link to Kayla's request for pen pals and how she looks in prison. 

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