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April 9, 2008

CSM piece has latest crack retroactivity news

This article in the Christian Science Monitor, headlined "As many crack convicts are freed early, will crime rise?", includes some of the latest data on the implementation of crack retroactivity.  Here is how the piece starts:

In an effort to eliminate a legal inequity — one that has hit African-Americans especially hard — federal judges have begun reducing the sentences of thousands of crack-cocaine offenders. Some police groups and prosecutors, as well as US Attorney General Michael Mukasey, assert that in trying to right a historic wrong, violent criminals are headed en masse back to the streets.

So far, indications are that this is not the case because the release process has safeguards built in. Statistics from the US Sentencing Commission, as well as interviews with federal public defenders and criminal-justice experts, indicate that federal prisoners who are to be released early are predominantly nonviolent and have good conduct records while in prison.  Of the 19,500 drug offenders eligible over the next 30 years to apply for early release, 3,417 have had their sentences reduced as of Monday.  Of the 1,500 inmates eligible for immediate release, dozens so far have been let go in the past month.

"There has been no release of a flood of violent criminals," says Michael Nachmanoff, federal public defender for the Eastern District of Virginia. "The people who are being released ... overwhelmingly had cases where there was no violence whatsoever and who were given unduly harsh sentences. And now, their sentences are being reduced by a modest amount."

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April 9, 2008 at 03:48 AM | Permalink

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