United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Parker Kent's pro
se Motion for Reduction of Sentence (Doc. 150), in which
Mr. Kent seeks compassionate release. For the reasons given
below, Mr. Kent's Motion is DENIED.
October 8, 2019, Mr. Kent submitted an Administrative Remedy
Request to the warden at the facility where he is
incarcerated seeking compassionate release. After thirty days
passed without a response, Mr. Kent was entitled to bring his
Motion before this Court pursuant to the First Step Act of
2018 ("FSA"), which permits an inmate to seek a
sentence reduction directly from the sentencing court after
"the lapse of 30 days from the receipt of such a request
by the warden of the defendant's facility." 18
U.S.C. §3582(c)(1)(A). Pursuant to the FSA, the Court
may grant the Defendant's direct motion for reduction of
sentence "if it finds that... extraordinary and
compelling reasons warrant such a reduction . . . and that
such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy
statements issued by the Sentencing Commission."
Sentencing Commission's policy statement provides four
categories of "extraordinary and compelling
reasons" that warrant a reduction in sentence. A
defendant with a serious medical condition or who is elderly
and experiencing age-related deterioration may be released.
U.S.S.G. § 1B1.13cmts. 1(A)&(B). Family
circumstances may also warrant compassionate release in the
event of "the death or incapacitation of the caregiver
of the defendant's minor child or minor children [or the]
incapacitation of the defendant's spouse or registered
partner when the defendant would be the only available
caregiver for the spouse or registered partner."
U.S.S.G. § 1B1.13 cmt. 1(C).
the Commission permits compassionate release for "other
reasons-[a]s determined by the Director of the Bureau of
Prisons." U.S.S.G. § 1B1.13 cmt. 1(D). This
language predates the amendments to the FSA described above.
Previously, incarcerated defendants were dependent on the BOP
to bring a motion for compassionate release on their behalf,
and the Court was permitted to defer to the BOP's
assessment that an unenumerated factor should be considered
"extraordinary and compelling." Now that a
defendant can bring such a motion directly to the court on
his own behalf, courts are divided as to whether the court
now also has the discretion to characterize something other
than medical condition, age, or family circumstance to be
"extraordinary and compelling." See United
States v. Brown, 2019 WL 4942051, at *2-3 (S.D. Iowa,
Oct. 8, 2019). Some courts view the Commission's inaction
to mean "that the district court can consider
anything-or at least anything the BOP could have
considered-when assessing a defendant's motion."
Brown, 2019 WL 4942051, at *2. Others "conclude
judges may not stray beyond the specific instances listed in
1B1.13 cmt. 1(A)-(C)." Id.
Eighth Circuit has not yet addressed how, if at all, the
Court's expanded role in sentence reductions pursuant to
the FSA are constrained by the Sentencing Commission's
policy statement. Here, however, it is not necessary for this
Court to offer its own interpretation. Even if the Court read
the FSA to permit it to find other extraordinary or
compelling reasons for sentence reduction, the Court does not
believe that such reasons are present here.
Kent suggests two reasons he merits a sentence reduction.
First, he offers the Court extensive evidence of his efforts
and achievements in pursuing an education and future career
opportunities while incarcerated. While the Court commends
Mr. Kent for these efforts, the Sentencing Commission is
clear that "rehabilitation of the defendant is not, by
itself, an extraordinary and compelling reason for purposes
of this policy statement." U.S.S.G. § 1B1.13 cmt.
3. The Court can see no reason to disregard elements of the
Commission's commentary that are not called into question
by the FSA amendments.
Mr. Kent contends that his sentence should be reduced because
of his current familial circumstances. Specifically, Mr. Kent
explains that his wife, sixteen-year-old daughter, and
ninety-two-year-old grandmother lost their home and personal
belongings in the fire that destroyed Paradise, California.
Mr. Kent seeks compassionate release in order to help provide
for his family in a period of significant financial hardship.
His wife and his father-in-law have also submitted letters to
the Court requesting that Mr. Kent be released to assist them
in this difficult time. (Doc. 150-1). However, even if the
Court would have latitude to consider other circumstances
warranting compassionate release, it is still appropriate to
be guided by the Commission's policy statement, which
indicates that a sentence reduction for family circumstances
is only appropriate when a defendant's minor child or
dependent spouse otherwise lacks a capable caregiver. That is
not the case for Mr. Kent's daughter or his wife, and the
Court finds that Mr. Kent therefore does not offer
extraordinary and compelling reasons to have his sentence
THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant's Motion (Doc. 150) is
 To the extent that Mr. Kent also seeks
a reduction of sentence for time served pursuant to U.S.S.G.
§ 5G1.3, this Court has already considered and denied
such a motion twice, see Docs. 143 & ...