Calls for retroactive crack sentencing relief

I have long felt that to a great extent we in this country have wasted the potential of a generation of motivated, entrepreneurial black males through the overcriminalization of crack cocaine.  I represented young black men in the mid '90's who could have sold ice to eskimos (can I say that?), but who were caught up in the federal crack cocaine dragnet and were sent to federal prison for over a decade as a result.  Instead of redirecting these young men with great potential and enabling them to give back to our country, we sent them to waste their youthful energy and creativity on a taxpayer sponsored $35,000.00 per year vacation.

Now that there is a possibility of some of these young men being resentenced, I would love to say that I see a wave of popular support for retroactive application of the new "crack" cocaine sentencing guidelines.  I am not sure I see that wave yet, but I am hearing a growing chorus of cries for relief.  Here is a sampling of articles calling for retroactive reform.  Feel free to add more links in comments.

Time magazine asks Will Crack-Cocaine Sentencing Reform Help Current Cons? by Theo Emery, August 7th, 2009.

From the Huffington Post article by Julie Stewart, president of Families against Mandatory Minimums, August 3rd, 2010:

When a manufacturer issues a defective product, they don't just fix the problem going forward; they do a total recall. Recalling the defective 100-to-1 disparity for everyone will bring relief to thousands of families and increase respect for the justice system. 

The Sentencing Project wrote a letter to the United States Sentencing Commission urging that they use their power to make the amendments retroactive:

Despite sensationalized warnings of administrative burden and increases in crime, these concerns have not been borne out. This success should encourage the Commission to continue on its path towards increased sentencing fairness by applying the Fair Sentencing Act to persons sentenced before its enactment.

Austin Chronicle write Jordan Smith urged the USSC to make the amendments retroactive on August 20th, 2010:

 The next step? Get Congress to make the new crack sentencing law retroactive, as the USSC did with the guidelines.

Blogger and Attorney Chad VanCleave in Cameron, Texas  and Dallas lawyer and blogger Cint Broden discuss possible remedies for any retroactive crack cocaine sentences on August 25th, 2010.

From Jeralyn Merritt at Talk Left: Crack Retroactivity: Don't Look to Obama for Help, discussion of the unlikeliness of blanket presidential clemency action to reduce pre-reform crack sentences from President Obama on September 12th, 2010.
 
From The Crime Report writer Justin Smith, September 22nd, 2010:

While the new act has returned some element of fairness to an issue  that had been clouded by the rush to punishment fueled by the “law and order”  anxieties of the 1980s, the injustice arguably continues.

From the National Law Journal opinion piece by Harlan Protass and Mark D. Harris, September 28th, 2010:

…permit thousands of men and women who were sentenced long ago for crimes involving crack to benefit from lawmakers' new and enlightened perspectives about punishment for those types of offenses. Basic fairness requires no less.

Comments

  1. Jennifer dunn says

    I am a wife of a man who has been sentenced to this law…it is unfair and it has been the worst 4 years so fair of my life allong with are children he was sentenced to 14 and a half years. Congruss does not care all they look at is this a black man in jail..(I’m a white woman)this law needs to be changed!

  2. Shannon P says

     
    I feel the fair sentencing act should be applied retroactively. Instead of spending funds to keep individuals incarcerated for ample amount of time for drug crime, why not use that money on programs to give direction to these individuals. Keeping them behind cells only institutionalize them.Families a torn apart everday, why not mend them if there is a way? Why not start with this law being made retoactive, and putting famlies back together? We all make mistakes and are all brought up from different cultural backgrounds  which result in these mistakes. One thing we all have in common is the abilty to make positive change. Please do us citizens a favor and make a change!

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