Friday, November 02, 2007

Crack Judgment

By Libby

Nobody denies that crack is a 'bad' drug, but in terms of damage to society, crack laws are worse so it's heartening to see this amendment pass into law.

The amendment, introduced by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, lowers the bottoms of the recommended sentencing ranges for crack cocaine-related crimes so that they are no higher than the mandatory minimum sentences required by law. The change is expected to impact around 3,500 people each year, and will reduce defendants' sentences on average by 15 months, according to the Sentencing Project.

There's another hearing on the 13th to consider applying it retroactively, which would free almost 20,000 people who are already in prison under the former guidelines which were outrageously skewed as compared to the penalities for equal amounts of powder cocaine.

This Commission can only change the guidelines so it's only a small change in the status quo of the war on some drugs but it's a huge victory for drug policy reform. The next step is to eliminate the mandatory minimums altogether.

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