FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mean Mister Mukasey

Currently Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey is trying to block the release of federal crack cocaine prisoners that have become eligible for release under newly enacted retroactive changes made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. He said that unless congress acts many violent gang members would become eligible for immediate release into communities nationwide and would produce tragic and predictable results.

Historically, whenever a judicial decision occurs in favor of those incarcerated, critics will take a fear mongers position to neutralize progress. Mukasey embraced this strategy by testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week and asked congress to undo the sentencing commission’s retro application of the guidelines that would free nearly 1,600 individuals this year. He also added that unless congress acts many violent gang members would become eligible for immediate release into communities nationwide and would produce tragic and predictable results.

In response, Democrats including Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said that Mukasey’s comments were made to “raise fear” by falsely implying that 1,600 violent criminals would be released this year if Congress does not act to block this legislation. Mukaseys current position is part of the archaic hyperbole used in the war on drugs in the United States. It makes no sense in lieu of the support of the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Sentencing Commission, in their efforts to dismantle the existing draconian crack cocaine laws.

After many years of heated debate over the issue of crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing disparities, the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided to ease the penalties for crack on November 1, 2007. It would affect about 20,000 crack cocaine offenders within a period of years. It was the largest single act to reduce the sentences of federal prisoners. Soon after the Supreme Court of the United States followed with a decision that gave judges the ability to impose lighter prison sentences than federal guideline call for.

The disparity of crack cocaine sentencing has been questioned for years. If you distribute just five grams of crack, it carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence. If you distribute 500 grams of powder cocaine, it carries the same sentence. This 100:1 sentencing disparity has been condemned for its racially discriminatory impact by a wide array of criminal justice and civil rights groups. Hispanics and whites make up the majority of crack cocaine users, but the majority of those convicted under crack cocaine offenses are African Americans

The unfair sentencing that is in effect was enacted based on the many myths that surround crack use. These included media stories that told of a “crack baby” epidemic in the 1980s, stories now found to be greatly exaggerated or flat out lies. Research now shows that factors such as smoking and drinking, malnutrition, inadequate sleep, and poverty are responsible for the many pre-natal ailments associated with crack use. Criminal penalties for possession and sales of cocaine are severe. But the penalties for crack cocaine are much more severe, despite the fact that pharmacologically they are the same drug.

If we look at a similar situation in New York State with the reform of its Rockefeller Drug Laws as a guide to what might occur through the retroactive release of crack cocaine offenders in the federal system, we see that about 1,000 drug prisoners became eligible for release in 2004/2005 in NYS. The retroactive judicial relief of those released had no impact in regards to public safety while saving the state ten’s of millions dollars in expenses because of the reduction of its prison population. The changes made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission should take affect. It will do a lot to balance the scales of justice in reforming a bad law that has dished out unfair sentences to people convicted of crack cocaine offenses.

ANTHONY PAPA is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and Communications Specialist for Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com

Papa’s artwork can be viewed at: www.15yearstolife.com/art1.htm

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail