Drug War

Holder Wants to Limit Crack Sentence Reductions

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On Wednesday the U.S. Sentencing Commission held a hearing on the retroactive application of the shorter crack cocaine sentences that Congress approved at the end of last year. The legislation, a compromise between those who wanted to eliminate the sentencing disparity between the smoked and snorted forms of cocaine and those who wanted merely to shrink it, reduced the weight gap by 82 percent: A crack offender who qualifies for the five-year or 10-year mandatory minimum sentence now gets the same penalty as someone caught with 18 (rather than 100) times as much cocaine powder. Although Congress did not make the change retroactive, the sentencing commission can choose to do so for prisoners whose terms are not dictated by the statutory minimums. According to the commission's analysis (PDF), retroactivity could mean shorter sentences for more than 12,000 crack offenders who are currently serving time. But Attorney General Eric Holder asked the commission to exclude prisoners who have significant criminal histories or who possessed a gun at the time of their offense, which would reduce the number of eligible inmates to about 5,500. Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, says that suggestion makes no sense, since those factors were already taken into account at sentencing.

Holder's proposal seems to be aimed at shielding the Obama administration, which supported the sentencing reform bill, from Republican flak. So far it is not working. On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) accused the administration of "supporting the release of dangerous drug dealers." Smith said Holder's testimony "shows that they are more concerned with well-being of criminals than with the safety of our communities." 

FAMM has more on retroactivity here.

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  1. Also, Holder doesn’t want to reduce any crack sentences.

    1. It would end up reducing the prison population. And we can’t have that. There are some phoney-balony jobs to protect out there!

      1. And if they’re prisoners, we can pay them less to do jobs that people who aren’t in jail get paid tons more to do.

  2. I am always amazed by how the subject of drugs gives even reasonable people full-frontal lobotomies.

    I think the best way to solve it? Mandatory drug taking. Everyone has to try meth, crack, smack, uppers, downers, etc. before they can talk about them.

    1. “We run into this every year. It is illegal to provide anyone under 21 alcohol no mater what precautions you take,” said Vermont State Police Capt. Dan Troidl, troop commander for northwestern Vermont. “We are going to have zero tolerance with this. The parents do not have authority to provide a safe environment to violate the law.”

      http://www.burlingtonfreepress…..y=obinsite

      1. I’m confused. Someone from Morristown NJ was hosting a party in Morristown VT for students from MA?

    2. Hey, I’ve never done steroids. But that doesn’t stop me from passing all kinds of laws about it. Plus I look like I took an uppercut to the nose from a cast iron skillet.

  3. C’mon you guys, be fair, Holder has to look tough on drugs if he wants to get re-elect…

    Oh, wait, no, I guess he’s just a dick.

  4. On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) accused the administration of “supporting the release of dangerous drug dealers.” Smith said Holder’s testimony “shows that they are more concerned with well-being of criminals than with the safety of our communities.”

    Thanks, GOP, for fear-mongering when the fascists are on the verge of accidentally doing something right.

    Now you’ve done your part in the grand game, and given them just the excuse they need to either cave completely, or start throwing in ridiculous caveats, like Holder is now doing. My god, it’s like they plan this crap together.

    1. I don’t think they plan it together, but both sides are so predictable that they can both plan their craven posturing ten moves ahead.

    2. Getting re-elected is far more important than any concept of justice, Jim. As long as you understand that about politicians, you will never be surprised by their depravity.

    3. Gridlock is all fine and good until we need them to get together and undo some of their fuckups.

    4. Yeah, I really need a moment here.

      FUCK

  5. When he said “posessed a gun at the time of their offense”, does that mean that the gun was on their person at the time or just that they owned a gun at the time?

  6. or who possessed a gun at the time of their offense

    Shocked I am.

    Soon, exceeding the speed limit “while in possession of a gun”, or drinking alcohol in your own home “while in possession of a gun”, or failure to pay your quarterly estimated taxes “while in possession of a gun” will all be special classifications of felonies with mandatory minimum prison time and loss of voting rights.

  7. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) accused the administration of “supporting the release of dangerous drug dealers.”

    [insert “FUCK YOU, Lamar Smith”]

  8. ‘Although Congress did not make the change retroactive, the sentencing commission can choose to do so [etc, etc.] . . .’

    OR . . . the President can commute sentences which he considers to be excessive. And if he supports the more lenient guidelines, he presumably believes that many sentences imposed before the guidelines are too long.

    THEREFORE . . . therefore, nothing, because the President doesn’t want headlines about how he freed dangerous drug dealers. Better to fob this off on an unelected commission.

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