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May 14, 2007

Time to get crackin' on crack sentencing reform

Tomorrow the US Sentencing Commission is scheduled to send its new cocaine sentencing report to Congress (background here and here)  I have been disappointed (though I suppose not surpised) that the USSC's new crack guideline sentencing amendment has gotten very little attention so far.  I am hopeful that the USSC's report, which should be much more media-friendly, will get these issues into the public dialogue.

Helpfully, the USSC has this reader-friendly version of all its new proposed guidelines amendments, and pp. 66-67 of the document provides helpful background on the reasons for the crack amendment.  Among other details, these reasons provide this account of exactly what the practical result of the new amendment should be:

The Commission's prison impact model predicts that, assuming no change in the existing statutory mandatory minimum penalties, this modification to the Drug Quantity Table will affect 69.7 percent of crack cocaine offenses sentenced under §2D1.1 and will result in a reduction in the estimated average sentence of all crack cocaine offenses from 121 months to 106 months, based on an analysis of cases sentenced in fiscal year 2006 under §2D1.1 involving crack cocaine.

In other words, roughly 70% of crack sentences will be reduced, on average, from just over 10 years to just under 9 years.  This many not seem like much of a tangible change, but I have explained here why the USSC's actions here are potentially so significant.

Related posts on the USSC new crack work:

May 14, 2007 at 05:32 PM | Permalink


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