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November 12, 2007

Effective coverage of crack retroactivity debate

The Los Angeles Times has this new extended article highlighting the import and significance of the debate over whether to make the new crack sentencing guidelines retroactive.  Here are snippets of the piece:

Under pressure from federal judges, inmate advocacy groups and civil rights organizations, federal authorities are considering a sweeping cut in prison sentences that could bring early release for thousands of federal inmates.

The proposal being weighed by the U.S. Sentencing Commission would shave an average of at least two years off the sentences of 19,500 federal prisoners, about 1 in 10 in the 200,000-inmate system. More than 2,500 of them, mainly those who have already served lengthy sentences, would be eligible for release within a year if the rule is adopted....

The congressionally chartered commission, which sets sentencing guidelines for federal judges, has already adopted reduced penalties for new crack cases hitting the courts effective Nov. 1. That decision will affect about 4,000 a cases a year.  The debate now is about its plans to make those changes retroactive to inmates.  The seven-member commission is considering the proposal at a hearing Tuesday; a vote is expected next year....

The widely differing treatment of crack offenders is "fundamentally unjust," said Reggie B. Walton, a federal judge in Washington.... "It is one of the very important civil rights issues of our day," said Hilary O. Shelton, director of the Washington office for the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, which has long pushed for changing cocaine laws.

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November 12, 2007 at 10:24 AM | Permalink


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» U.S. Sentencing Commission supports retroactive application of reduced crack sentencing guidelines. from UNDERDOG - Criminal/DWI/DUI Defense, Maryland, Virginia, DC
DEA image in the public domain. Cocaine base -- often referred to as crack -- is pharmacologically indistinguishable from powder cocaine. However, for many years, the United States sentencing guidelines have provided for a harsh 100:1 sentencing dispa [Read More]

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