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October 30, 2006

A bemusing, and ironically pernicous, assault on NPR's crack story

In this post, Eugene Volokh launches a bemusing, but ironically pernicious, assault on NPR's recent coverage of crack sentencing disparities (which I noted here).  Though Eugene cautions in the post that he is "not a drug policy expert," I am surprised that his post reflects a lack of awareness of the long-standing debate over crack/cocaine sentencing in the federal system.

What makes Eugene's post ironically pernicious is that he assails NPR for sloppy reporting and analysis.  But his post suffers from the same problems.  Eugene attacks NPR for "vague assertions" and for not giving listeners "sensible analysis."  But Eugene's post then makes the (unfounded) assertion that folks working on these issues are "just picking numbers out of thin air."  And he does not point his readers to the ample materials available to help his readers engage in a sensible analysis of crack/cocaine sentencing in the federal system.

As anyone involved in federal sentencing should know, much of the current debate on crack/cocaine sentencing in the federal system builds on the extensive work that has been done by the US Sentencing Commission over the last decade.  Specifically, the USSC has issued extensive reports to Congress in 1995, and in 1997 and again in 2002.  Notably, this work by the USSC and other related work was highlighted by a major ACLU report on Friday and has been a regular topic on this blog.  I am hopeful Eugene might update his post by referencing some of these materials so as foster "sensible analysis" over more "vague assertions."

UPDATE:  Eugene has kindly added a link to this post, and I can indirectly return the favor by providing below a more organized set of links for anyone eager to conduct a sensible analysis of crack/cocaine sentencing in the federal system:

USSC Reports:

Other more recent crack reports

October 30, 2006 at 02:36 PM | Permalink


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