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September 5, 2007

Stanford event on "Mandatory Minimums and the Crack/Powder Sentencing Disparity"

Later this week, I am heading out to California because I have the honor of participating in another of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center's Executive Sessions on Sentencing and Corrections.  Unfortunately, my teaching schedule prevents me from getting out to Stanford Law School in time for this exciting event scheduled for tomorrow afternoon:

"Mandatory Minimums and the Crack/Powder Sentencing Disparity"

Featuring The Honorable Paul G. Cassell and The Honorable William K. Sessions III

In 1986, Congress enacted the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, instituting mandatory penalties for crack cocaine offenses that have been characterized as the harshest in history.  The law established drastically different penalty structures for crack and powder cocaine offenses, based on the understanding that crack cocaine was more dangerous than powder cocaine and posed a greater threat to public safety.  This is what has come to be known as the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity.  The law's effect on the disproportionate number of African Americans in United States prisons is staggering. While drug use rates are similar among all racial groups, African American drug offenders have a twenty percent greater likelihood of receiving a prison sentence than their white counterparts and African Americans now serve virtually as much time in prison for drug offenses as whites serve for violent offenses.

This year the United States Sentencing Commission took action by amending the federal sentencing guidelines to lower guideline sentences for crack cocaine offenses.  However, the Commission does not have the authority to repeal the mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine sentences. There are currently six bills before the United States Congress addressing this issue and the Sentencing Commission recommended in May of 2007 that Congress take action this year to remedy this gross disparity.  In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted certiorari in the case of Kimbrough v. United States, a crack cocaine possession case in which a federal judge imposed a below-guidelines sentence, stating that the sentence called for under the guidelines was higher than necessary to do justice in this case.

Registration is free at this link.

September 5, 2007 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

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Comments

vernon carlisle sentenced to 35yrs in fed. prison. never had any record, and was not ever caught with anything, so they gave him a conspiracy charge. went to prison in 1991 at the age of 21 and is still there...
please help free my brother..

Posted by: taj tyler | Oct 4, 2007 3:53:58 PM

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