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January 20, 2011

Notable new letter to AG Eric Holder concerning application of the FSA

This morning I received a copy of a letter that the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to issue guidance instructing all federal prosecutors to apply the modified mandatory minimums in the new Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 to all defendants who have not yet been sentenced, including those whose conduct predates the legislation’s enactment. The letter can be downloaded below, and here is an excerpt:

The passage of the FSA was a watershed moment in the move toward fairness in criminal sentencing and in the effort to correct a long standing wrong. Your leadership and support for the FSA were not only crucial to its passage, but also conveyed the need for immediate action. As you noted last year when testifying before the Senate, “the stakes are simply too high to let reform in this area wait any longer.” We agree....

All of this would lead us to think that the Justice Department would work with some urgency to prosecute crack offenders along the new guidelines consistent with the remedial purpose of the Act. But to our dismay, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Conley recently argued in court that it was the Justice Department‟s policy, and not simply a matter of prosecutorial discretion, to apply the old mandatory minimums to all future prosecutions and sentencing based on pre-August 3, 2010, conduct.... As Attorney General, you are well within the bounds of your authority to issue such guidance since there is ample precedence for producing various memoranda addressing Department policies with respect to charging, case disposition, and sentencing.... The recent passage of the FSA emphatically reaffirms Congress' intention that crack defendants are entitled to fair treatment. It makes no sense to apply punishment differentially for defendants whose conduct occurred a few days apart.

For these reasons, we call upon you to issue new guidance to all Justice Department prosecutors that closely follows the Congressional intent behind the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 found in the legislative history surrounding its passage. Such guidance necessarily entails seeking sentences consistent with the Act‟s reduced mandatory minimums for defendants who have not yet been sentenced, regardless of when their conduct took place.

Download 1_18_11_Ltr_to_AG_Holder_on_Crack_Sentencing

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January 20, 2011 at 11:12 AM | Permalink


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The fact that the Department of Justice continues to resist applying the new MMs to those not yet sentenced is Exhibit A in the case against the Department for not living up to its name "Justice". It truly is disturbing, upsetting, and most of all, sad.

Everyone agrees the old MMs were unjust. Yet this Department of "Justice" (quotes warranted) obstructs a more just criminal "justice" system.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 20, 2011 12:13:33 PM

Anon: I totally agree....Whats their point, much less their purpose, by taking this fork in the road....

Posted by: Josh | Jan 20, 2011 1:07:05 PM

narrow minded and blood thirsty...and that is the nicest thing I can say about the DOJ policy

Posted by: Matthew Robinson | Jan 24, 2011 11:21:32 AM

Thank you very much for keeping me up to date.

Posted by: Health Blog | Jan 26, 2011 7:19:47 AM

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