Buried Alive Project and AFS Win Release of Tony Lewis Under First Step Act

In a pro bono partnership with Buried Alive Project, ArentFox Schiff helped secure the release of Tony Lewis, who was serving a life sentence for a drug offense in Washington, DC. After spending nearly 34 years in prison, Lewis will be released on March 20, 2023.

Lewis’s case has generated national media attention as an example of people serving life sentences without parole for non-violent drug offenses that were committed decades ago. After the US Supreme Court ruling in Concepcion v. United States, where the Court held that “the First Step Act allows district courts to consider intervening changes of law or fact in exercising their discretion to reduce a sentence pursuant to the First Step Act,” people in prison serving sentences with similar drug convictions have been successfully released in jurisdictions across the country.

ArentFox Schiff partner Warren Seay, Jr. and associate Anna Mandel assisted lead counsel Brittany K. Barnett of the Buried Alive Project to file the motion for release on behalf of Lewis on February 3, 2023. The Government did not oppose the motion for release. Last week, Judge Royce Lamberth in the US District Court for the District of Columbia agreed to reduce Lewis’s sentence to time-served under the First Step Act of 2018.

ArentFox Schiff’s robust pro bono practice has worked with Buried Alive Project and its founder Brittany K. Barnett on several criminal and social justice initiatives.  Moreover, the ArentFox Schiff Center for Racial Equity is dedicated to advancing racial justice by using legal, policy, and advocacy tools to help create a more fair and equitable society.

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