Panel: Lighten Sentences for First-Time Crack Cocaine Offenders



Panel: Lighten Sentences for First-Time Crack Cocaine Offenders

Saturday, April 28, 2007

WASHINGTON — A first-time crack-cocaine conviction should mean a lower federal minimum sentence than under current guidelines, according to a judicial agency that has raised concerns about a disparity in punishment for people caught with crack or powder cocaine.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to lower the recommended sentencing range for those caught with 5 grams or more of crack cocaine from 63 months to 78 months to a range of 51 months to 63 months. Those with at least 50 grams should serve 97 months to 121 months in prison, not 121 months to 151 months, as the guidelines now say, the commission said late Friday.
At issue is a 1986 law that includes what critics have called the 100-to-1 disparity: Trafficking in 5 grams of cocaine carries a mandatory five-year prison sentence, but it takes 500 grams of cocaine powder to warrant the same sentence.
This is the fourth time the commission, an independent agency in the judicial branch, has recommended that Congress narrow the sentencing gap. Previous recommendations, which were not adopted, have included raising the penalties for powder cocaine and lowering them for crack.
The commission's guidelines are designed to ensure that federal sentences do not vary widely from courtroom to courtroom. They were mandatory until 2005. That year, the Supreme Court said making the guidelines mandatory violated a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial because they call for judges to make factual decisions that could add to prison time, such as the amount of drugs involved in a crime.
The commission planned to send its recommendation to Congress before May 1. Lawmakers would have until Nov. 1 to reject the new guidelines before they would become law.
Advocates for changing the law point to crime statistics that show crack is more of an urban and minority drug while cocaine powder is used more often by the affluent, and that harsher penalties for crack cocaine unfairly punish blacks.
"This unjust policy is based on little more than politics and urban myths, yet it's been allowed to stand for over 20 years, devastating African-American communities in the process," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's legislative office in Washington.
In November, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton told the agency that federal laws requiring dramatically longer sentences for crack cocaine than for cocaine powder were "unconscionable" and contributed to the perception within minority communities that courts are unfair.
While Congress would have to overturn the 1986 law to erase minimum sentences, the commission's new rule "provides some relief to crack cocaine offenders impacted by the disparity created by federal cocaine sentencing policy," the commission said in a statement.
But the Justice Department has urged the commission to let Congress deal with the inconsistency. "While we are willing to discuss addressing the disparity in the ratio between crack and powder cocaine, we believe that it should be done in the broader context of sentencing reform," spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., a longtime advocate of equalizing penalties for crack and powder cocaine, has said he will hold hearings to address the issue.,2933,269074,00.html
Here's a suggestion for deterrence...make 'em piss test to pick up their welfare checks.
So up the sentence for powder. Easy.

Goddamn, I should be promoted to President for this.
Lowering the sentencing would do nothing except shorten the financual burden to the govt for jail.

Does anyone seriously think someone is going to think 63 mths in jail is going to deter someone more than 51 mths in jail?

This isn't an issue that arbitrary lengths of jail time is going to solve or make any real difference too.

The 'war on drugs' is a bit of a joke and more importantly isn't working that well.

It needs a re-focus. :2c:
The user arent really the problem IMO. Obviously throwing them in jail doensn't work regardless of the ammount of the sentence.

The problem is our Govt and it's innability to have the balls to stop the inflo of Narcotics from the southern boarder.:2c:

That would unfortunately go hand in hand with cracking down on illegals...................but that aint going to happen in our lifetimes.
we are a very drug oriented society, it is silly to say, "oh, this is okay, but not this" , why can we not allow adults to use drugs, tax substances for the Feds and States instead of allowing Cartels to spend the money offshore ?

anyhoo, this change in Law seems to address the fact the most crack arrests are Black people, wheras powdered coke is non-Blacks

our Southern Border is extremely porous, hope we have contacts with the Mexi Mafia, Coyotes, whoever is running things outside the scope of Law,as it is a great way to sneak in wmd (it could be argued that coke is a form of chemwar)
Yeah let's allow people to use meth how they want. Let's just forget about the child abuse rates.
Police policy is seize and warn. You'd have to have a hell of a lot to get done for dealing plus there needs to be scales and shit proving it.

Utentsils get seized too.

Can still get done for it, of course. It's not unheard of.

Border is no mercy.
Getting caught with pot in Cali. is less than or equal to an open container violation. Pretty fucked up, if you ask me.

Our country has done decent on slowing the Meth problem down...........BUT since then, most of what is used in the US in now made guessed it, Mexico.

It will never change until we fucking close the boarder with Mexico, excluding actual entry points.:2c:
Ranger Luna, here in Cali it is virtually Legal.
LA has many "shops" where with a docs script (around 100 bux), you can buy lots of God's gift, Cannabis.

DEA ran an op and busted 12 or so shops, amount tells me that have budgetary issues....