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.

July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail