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February 7, 2008

Mukasey's crack testimony and reactions from public policy groups

AG Mukasey's take on crack retroactivity appears in the last few pages of this written testimony submitted today to the House Judiciary Committee, which this morning held an "Oversight Hearing of the Department of Justice."  Here is the key concluding paragraph of the crack part of his testimony:

[W]e think it is imperative for Congress to pass legislation to address the Sentencing Commission’s decision.  In calling for action, I emphasize that we are not asking this Committee to prolong the sentences of those offenders who pose the least threat to their communities, such as first-time, non-violent offenders. Instead, our objective is to address the Sentencing Commission’s decision in a way that protects public safety and addresses the adverse judicial and administrative consequences that will result from retroactive application of these lower guidelines.  We would appreciate the opportunity to work with this Committee and this House to address the retroactivity issue in an expedient manner while beginning discussions on changes to the current statutory differential between crack and powder cocaine offenses.

Unsurprisingly, public policy groups like FAMM and the ACLU are not impressed and they've got press releases out responding to the AG's assertions.  The FAMM release is here, and the ACLU release is here.

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February 7, 2008 at 05:49 PM | Permalink

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Comments

It is time that judges and legislators called a spade a spade. No one can determine with reasonable certainty what a persons risk of committing another crime will be five years form now. Sentences that purport to do so are unreasonable on their face. Risk changes, period. Risk determination is an actuarial task. A different decision making mechanism should be used for this purpose, say a Risk Control Board that reviews cases every six months or a year. Parole Boards used to perform this task, but that system was flawed for other reasons. Policy makers should determine how much risk is tolerable and provide mechanisms for acting accordingly.

Posted by: Tom McGee | Feb 7, 2008 7:53:23 PM

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