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.
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.