More Good News on Crack Sentences

Yesterday the Supreme Court said judges who disagree with the way crack offenses are treated under the federal sentencing guidelines have the discretion to impose penalties closer to those recommended for offenses involving equivalent amounts of cocaine powder. Today the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided to retroactively apply recent guideline changes that shrank the disparity between crack and cocaine powder. That means crack offenders sentenced prior to November 1, when the changes took effect, can apply for resentencing. Families Against Mandatory Minimums says retroactivity applies to nearly 20,000 prisoners, about 2,250 of whom could be eligible for release within a year.

Neither the Supreme Court ruling nor the sentencing commission's decision affects the five- and 10-year statutory mandatory minimums for crack offenses, which continue to treat smoked cocaine as if it were 100 times as bad as snorted cocaine. Only Congress can change those penalties.

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  • Episiarch||

    Families Against Mandatory Minimums says retroactivity applies to nearly 20,000 prisoners, about 2,250 of whom could be eligible for release within a year.

    No matter what else, this is damned good news.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Keep Dope alive !!!

  • ||

    The longest journey starts with a single step. This is a positive event.

  • Elemenope||

    A nice surprise, Scalia diverging from his more freedom-challenged "conservative" colleagues and supported more parity in crack/cocaine sentencing. It's like he's remembering his Texas v. Johnson days and the twenty years in between were just a fevered federal power-loving bad dream...

  • Elemenope||

    The USSC recommendation was, IMHO, even bigger. Retroactivity is, in a word, awesome, when it sets people who got screwed by racism and bad science free.

  • Elemenope||

    Speaking of punishment...I read this over at the brickbats:

    Officials at Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, suspended 70 students for five days for protesting a new rule mandating they tuck their shirts into their pants. Officials say the protestors [sic] broke a school rule against "encouraging other students to violate school rules or regulations."

    And I had a devilish idea. The kids could scrape together the printing costs for "the school rules" and bomb-flyer the high school. Then, they can turn themselves in and asked to be suspended. Why? Well, by printing out the school rules we're encouraging people to read them...and since anyone who reads these stupid things wants to break them....

    Seriously, though, schools who do this sort of thing are easily outflanked by kids who essentially can't get punished worse than suspension but still can wreak havoc. The weakness of any system of rules is that it requires a larger degree of voluntary compliance than anyone really thinks about. I for one am surprised that our psychotically-regimented schools don't turn out more libertarians...

  • ||

    Neither the Supreme Court ruling nor the sentencing commission's decision affects the five- and 10-year statutory mandatory minimums for crack offenses, which continue to treat smoked cocaine as if it were 100 times as bad as snorted cocaine. Only Congress can change those penalties.

    Let's all hold our breath on this one.

  • ||

    Families Against Mandatory Minimums says retroactivity applies to nearly 20,000 prisoners, about 2,250 of whom could be eligible for release within a year.

    With all the money we save from not imprisoning these people i say we should get a tax cut...seriously.

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