On the heels of an about-face by the Justice Department, a federal appeals court has ruled that the new, more lenient sentencing rules for crack cocaine must be applied retroactively so that every defendant sentenced after the law was passed will benefit.

The issue of precisely who should benefit from the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 is one that has splintered the circuits. But Tuesday’s decision from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the first to be released since the government’s change of heart.

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