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February 12, 2008

Report on Senate crack hearing

I was busy with other matters and thus was not able to watch the Senate crack hearing via webcast.  But, as detailed in this AP report, it appears that the hearing had its moments:

Senate Democrats on Tuesday rejected Attorney General Michael Mukasey's request to change new sentencing guidelines that would enable thousands of federal inmates to seek reductions in their crack cocaine sentences....  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., accused Mukasey of falsely suggesting that the new policy would automatically set free 1,600 violent offenders "to prey on hapless communities."

"As the attorney general, himself a former federal judge, should have known ... no one can be released without a hearing before a federal judge who is obligated to evaluate each case and to consider factors such as the criminal history and violence," Leahy said in a statement.  "We can't let such scare tactics by the administration deter us from our goal of achieving fairness and legitimacy in the criminal justice system," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass....

Testifying for the Justice Department, Gretchen C.F. Shappert, a federal prosecutor for the Western District of North Carolina, told the Senate panel Tuesday that the new sentencing rules of retroactivity would be too burdensome on the federal court system.  Further, the flood would hit certain court districts disproportionately, she said.

Everyone's written testimony from the hearing now appears to be linked on this official website.  A quick scan of the testimony did not reveal anything especially new in this old debate, but perhaps readers see some hidden nuggets in the latest round of wacky crack talk.

February 12, 2008 at 05:45 PM | Permalink

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» Leahy, Kennedy Call Out Mukasey on Crack Fear-Mongering from Drug Law Blog
The Senate Judiciary Committee has rejected Attorney General Mukasey's call to advance legislation undoing the Sentencing Commission's reform of federal sentencing guidelines around crack cocaine, the Los Angeles Times reports. Not only that, the LAT n... [Read More]

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Comments

Senator Biden repeatedly brought up his bill that would equalize crack and powder and said that the two should be equal, but pointed out that his bill was not retroactive. When Biden asked Sheppart what they meant by violent criminals: did that mean they have had been convicted in the past of a violent crime as it related to the crack cocaine or was the violent offense a seperate offense altogether? Sheppart did not answer the question directly. He then asked the same question to Judge Walton, but as he spoke in defense of the inmates, but did not really answer the question either. I was hoping one of them would, namely Sheppart. This kind of indirect answering is see often, but I think the question (had it been answered) would have cleared up alot...
Forgive me for saying, but I think Pete Sessions is wrong on the issue...
Biden said that these laws were enacted long ago and now its time to take another look and see if they need to be changed... Biden asked Sheppart if the DOJ would be willing to have a discussion on changing the mandatory mins and she said yes they'd be willing to talk...
I think that Biden has taken a great position on the Crack Cocaine laws and if it were left up to only him, I think he'd fix this whole disparity mess...

Posted by: Wannabe | Feb 12, 2008 7:48:34 PM

Oh and the DOJ rep Sheppart stated that whatever action is taken needs to happen quickly, before the Mar.3 retroactive date. I cant remember, but does anyone else recall what she said in reference to what action needed to happen?

Posted by: Wannabe | Feb 12, 2008 8:13:31 PM

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