Federal Prisoners in for Crack Will Get Sentence Cuts
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Freedom will come sooner to thousands of prisoners convicted of possessing crack cocaine now that the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided to retroactively apply a new sentencing regulation to those already serving time.
In response to the passage last year of the Fair Sentencing Act by Congress, the commission established new rules shrinking the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine convictions. At first the change applied only to new prisoners, but last week commissioners decided to also give a break to inmates sentenced before the 2010 law was passed.
More than 12,000 prisoners—most of whom are black—will experience an average sentence reduction of slightly more than three years. The average sentence for crack was 10 years in length; now it will be seven.
The disparity in cocaine sentences was established in the 1980s when Congress mandated that crack possession be met with harsh punishment. As a result, anyone convicted of having as little as five grams of crack faced mandatory minimum jail time of five years, while people caught with powder cocaine had to be carrying 100 times as much of the drug to receive the same sentence.
Federal Crack Prisoners Will Get Sentence Cuts (by Phillip Smith, Drug War Chronicle)
US: Crack Cocaine Ruling a Victory for Rights (Human Rights Watch)
Supreme Court Allows Plea Agreement Sentences to be Changed when Sentencing Rules Are Updated (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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