United States v. Brennan, No. 96-CR-793 (JBW), 2007 WL 14590 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 2, 2007)
Very interesting reading.
Brennan was twice found by New York City police to be in the possession of heroin while on supervised release from a federal conviction. Rather than sentence him to a term of incarceration for his supervised release violation and based on the disparity between state and federal sentences for narcotics offenses, however, Judge Weinstein adjourned Brennan's violation of supervised release charges so that he could resolve his state narcotics charges and participate in a state drug treatment program. Here is what Judge Weinstein had to say concerning state-federal disparity in sentencing (citations have been omitted and some paragraphs have been condensed for ease of reading -- check out the opinion for the full quotation and other interesting perspectives):
Federal courts have recognized that moderating changes in state criminal drugs laws can have an ameliorative effect on harsh federal sentences. In the area of sentencing, the combination of overlapping state and federal laws and limited federal resources exarcerbate the disparity between state and federal sentences. A criticism of the federalization of criminal law is that the possibility of so many crimes now being subject to both federal and state prosecution creates a large pool of defendants who could be tried in either court.
Since the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker, 542 U.S. 220 (2005), made the federal setencing guidelines largely advisory, the issue of whether it is appropriate for federal sentencing judges to consider the disparity between state and federal sentences becomes critical in some cases. Federal courts are recognizing post-Booker that it may be appropriate to take state sentencing practices into account when sentencing federal defendants.
The disparity referred to [in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(6)] has usually been interpreted to apply horizontally to comparisons among federal defendants. Yet, section 3553(a)(6) can also be interpreted to require consideration of vertical disparities between local state and federal sentences. Criminal law and sentences in the past and today have been crafted by the states not the federal government; federal sentences have had little impact on most crimes.
From the point of view of the impact of sentencnig on specific and general deterrence and reducing recidivism rates, state-vertical coordination is more important than national-horizontal uniformity. The public and criminals generally consider the local federal and state courts as part of a single protective institution. Too great a disparity between state and federal prosecution and sentencing decisions will be seen by the public as creating unjustified disparities. Section 3553(a)(6) should be construed as covering disparities in state-federal as well as federal-federal comparitive sentencing.