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February 13, 2008

Is crack reform to be subject to bargained justice?

The Washington Post has this intriguing little item suggesting a crack sentencing reform deal could be in the works:

Congress could limit the early release of crack cocaine offenders as part of a possible deal with the Bush administration to reduce a disparity in cocaine sentencing, a leading Democrat said yesterday.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) said there is growing support in Congress for revising a 22-year-old law that sets far harsher federal penalties for crack cocaine than for powder cocaine.  A Justice Department willingness to reduce the disparities and revise a mandatory minimum sentence for crack possession makes a deal possible, Biden said. He said he could consider in return the Bush administration's plea to limit a pending release of crack offenders whose sentences were cut by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

"I'm willing to consider a compromise [as long as] . . . there's a significant change relative to disparities, a significant change relative to minimum mandatory, and in return for that I'm willing to talk about a meaningful change in retroactivity," Biden said after a hearing of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee he chairs.

I would be very surprised if this kind of deal becomes a legislative reality anytime soon, but it is really interesting that this sort of deal-making is being openly discussed.

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February 13, 2008 at 09:26 AM | Permalink

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Comments

So does this mean the deal will happen before the near approaching retroactive date of Mar 3rd? Otherwise this could cause other problems...

Posted by: | Feb 13, 2008 10:09:57 AM

Hey Prof. Berman

Biden's had this bill kicking around since last summer but it looks like it's getting a fresh push

biden.senate.gov/newsroom/details.cfm?id=292770&

Best
EB

Posted by: ethan | Feb 13, 2008 1:49:45 PM

Hey Prof. Berman

Biden's had this bill kicking around since last summer but it looks like it's getting a fresh push

biden.senate.gov/newsroom/details.cfm?id=292770&

Best
EB

Posted by: ethan | Feb 13, 2008 1:50:32 PM

Can anyone explain why the new legislation the DOJ has requested, which would ostensibly retroactively amend existing law on the retroactivity of guidelines changes, would not be an ex post facto law?

Posted by: Some Lawyer | Feb 13, 2008 2:42:58 PM

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