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Fed Prisoner's Non-Custodial Escape was a Crime of Violence for Sentencing Purposes

Deondery Chambers, a federal prisoner, pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court judge found that he had three violent priors and sentenced him to 188 months as an armed career criminal under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). Chambers appealed, arguing that his prior escape conviction for failure to report to prison for a period of confinement under Illinois state law wasn't a violent crime and thus couldn't be a violent prior for purposes of calculating his current sentence.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit relied on its own precedent, which held that escape is per se potentially violent, and affirmed the district court. The appellate court, however, expressed at least some doubt that escapes of this kind are inherently dangerous and suggested that a study be done to determine the likelihood of violence during non-custodial escapes. See: United States v. Chambers, 473 F.3d 724 (7th Cir. 2007).

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Related legal case

United States v. Chambers