Thursday, February 28, 2008

Movement on cocaine crack/powder sentencing disparity

Here's a link to the Register's editorial on House committee hearings on the crack/cocaine powder sentencing disparity. Drug law reformers -- talked to Ethan Nadelmann, Bill Piper and a few others -- think there's a pretty good chance of movement on the fact that back in the '80s Congress increased the sentence for crack so drastically that 5 grams of crack brings the same sentence as 500 grams of powder. Absurd. The U.S. Sentencing Commssion and Supreme Court agree that it's absurd, but Michael Mukasey (more sophisticated than Gonzales but far from sensible on this and other issues) disagrees.

Of course, I'd prefer no criminal penalties at all, but that's gonna happen this year.

There are about four different bills offering different levels of relief, and there's motion to get together on an approach that can be passed. Ethan said the reformers were surprised at how many congresscritters are there on this issue (including some Republicans), and the elected officials were surprised at the strength of support out there among the people.

Cross your fingers. And write your Senators and Congress members, if you do that sort of thing. Or maybe even if you don't usually.

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