Withdrawal from conspiracy

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"In February or March 2000, petitioner Brian Gall, a second-year college student at the University of Iowa, was invited by Luke Rinderknecht to join an ongoing enterprise distributing a controlled substance popularly known as 'ecstasy.'  Gall - who was then a user of ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana - accepted the invitation."

"A month or two after joining the conspiracy, Gall stopped using ecstasy.  A few months after that, in September 2000, he advised Rinderknecht and other co-conspirators that he was withdrawing from the conspiracy.  He has not sold illegal drugs of any kind since.  He has, in the words of the District Court, 'self-rehabilitated.'"

"[T]he District Judge explained why he had concluded that the sentence of probation reflected the seriousness of Gall's offense and that no term of imprisonment was necessary: 'Any term of imprisonment in this case would be counter effective by depriving society of the contributions of the Defendant . . . .'"

"The Court of Appeals thought that the District Court 'gave too much weight to Gall's withdrawal from the conspiracy . . . .'"  This criticism is flawed in that it ignores the critical relevance of Gall's voluntary withdrawal, a circumstance that distinguished his conduct not only from that of all his codefendants, but from the vast majority of defendants convicted of conspiracy in federal court.  The District Court quite reasonably attached great weight to the fact that Gall voluntarily withdrew from the conspiracy after deciding, on his own initiative, to change his life.  This lends strong support to the District Court's conclusion that Gall is not going to return to criminal behavior and is not a danger to society.  Compared to a case where the offender's rehabilitation occurred after he was charged with a crime, the District Court here had greater justification for believing Gall's turnaround was genuine, as distinct from a transparent attempt to build a mitigation case."