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Congress Should Let DC Fund Needle Exchange

Back during our jury civil disobedience in 2004, David Guard and I did our community service time at the needle exchange program here in Washington and got to know the people there. They've been doing a lot for the community, all of it with privately-raised funds, but more is needed to be able to reach all the people who are at risk from contracting diseases like AIDS or Hepatitis C through needle sharing. The District of Columbia government would almost certainly fund needle exchange work, but Congress gets to control what our budget looks like if they want to, and in their infinite wisdom (sarcasm) they decided to forbid DC from spending even its own taxpayer dollars on needle exchange. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), who chairs the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which has jurisdiction over this area of the US Code, has said he wants to undo the restriction. Today the New York Times ran a strongly supportive editorial:
Washington, D.C., is one of America’s AIDS hot spots. A significant proportion of infections can be traced back to intravenous drug users who shared contaminated needles and then passed on the infection to spouses, lovers or unborn children. This public health disaster is partly the fault of Congress. It has wrongly and disastrously used its power over the District of Columbia’s budget to bar the city from spending even locally raised tax dollars on programs that have slowed the spread of disease by giving drug addicts access to clean needles.
The Times titled the editorial "Congress Hobbles the AIDS Fight." The activist paraphrase of that, which is how the editorial was first presented to me, would be "Congress has blood on its hands." Last week the Times also ran a news feature about DC's needle exchange, and an online "slide show" featuring the program's Ron Daniels. The larger legislation in which the DC funding ban could get repealed is expected to move quickly, with markups scheduled for Serrano's subcommittee tomorrow and the Appropriations Committee of which it is a part next week -- you never know how quickly something will really move in Congress, but that's how it looks right now. Stay tuned.
United States

Law Enforcement: US Senate Passes Bill to Restore Drug Task Force Grants

The US Senate voted last Friday to approve legislation that will restore the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, which supplies funding to state and local law enforcement that allows those agencies to create multi-agency drug task forces. The legislation would reauthorize the Byrne/JAG grants for another five years at their 2006 funding level of about $200 million a year.

The program has been harshly criticized not only by those who cite numerous drug task force abuses, but also by those critical of wasteful, inefficient programs. Two years ago, the taxpayer group Citizens Against Government Waste issued a scathing report on wasteful drug policy spending. "Designed chiefly to curb drug trafficking across America's borders, the program has become a drug prevention funding free-for-all for power-hungry politicians to bring home the bacon to their districts at the taxpayers' expense, and has decreased drug enforcement in areas where it is critically needed," the group found.

The Bush administration has been trying to eliminate the Byrne/JAG grant program as a cost-saving measure, but the powerful law enforcement lobby screamed bloody murder. The move to restore funding was endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriff's Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Narcotic Officers' Associations' Coalition, the National District Attorneys' Association, the National Criminal Justice Association, the State Association of Addiction Services, rhe National Policy Legal Action Center, the National Association of Counties, the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, the Major City Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs Association, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, the National HIDTA Directors Association, and the National Troopers Coalition.

Supporters of the drug task force grants led by Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) managed to round up 51 co-sponsors to the bill. Cops and politicians alike were crowing about their victory after the vote.

"The Senate has approved legislation to reauthorize the Byrne/JAG grants for five additional years. At a time when this country is seeing the biggest surge in violent crime it has experienced in more than a decade, we must fund programs like Byrne/JAG," Sen. Feinstein said. "These grants are critical to supporting multi-jurisdictional task forces in their fight against drug and firearm traffickers, gangs, and organized crime. The Byrne/JAG program has shown real results for more than two decades, and these funds will allow the successes to continue."

"I have heard first-hand from Georgia's law enforcement community that this funding is critical to their efforts in fighting crime and drugs and keeping our citizens in both rural and urban communities safe," said Sen. Chambliss. "If we're going to call upon folks to do more, then we have to provide the resources they need to carry out their duties. Planning for and providing robust funding for this effective program is essential to the folks we rely on to keep us and our families safe."

"The National Sheriffs' Association would like to thank Senator Feinstein for her continued leadership to combat gangs and her tireless efforts to ensure that this vital law enforcement program is revitalized," said National Sheriffs' Association President Ted Kamatchus, of Marshall County, Iowa.

"The IACP applauds the Senate's passage of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Reauthorization (Byrne-JAG)," said Chief Joseph C. Carter, Chief of the MBTA Transit Police and President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). "This measure would help law enforcement agencies fight against drug abuse, crime, and violence, and it would improve the criminal justice system. The Byrne-JAG Program has consistently provided valuable and critical resources to state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies, and the IACP urges the House of Representatives to approve this legislation."

"The National Narcotic Officers' Associations' Coalition, representing the interests of nearly 70,000 narcotic officers in 43 states across the country, would like to thank Senator Feinstein and the fifty-two co-sponsors of S.231 for recognizing the importance of extending the current authorization of the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. This program's reauthorization will provide resources that are vital to America's narcotic officers - helping them keep neighborhoods safe from the increasing threat of gangs and drugs in America's communities," National Narcotic Officers' Associations' Coalition President Ron Brooks.

Now it's on to the House, where it will likely be equally difficult to stop the law enforcement juggernaut.

Alone in a City’s AIDS Battle, Hoping for Backup

Washington, DC
United States
The New York Times

FedCURE Message: Federal Inmate Judith Giglo Writes Rep. Louie Gohmert -- "Calls Him Out on The Second Chance Act."

FedCURE pleads with all you, in the most strongest terms, to get behind Judith's heartfelt message and contact your Congressperson NOW! Urging him or her to support The Second Chance Act, especially the Republican leadership – Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) expressing disappointment with the delay and urging them to strongly support the Second Chance Act. Link to Contact Congress and Tips on Writing Congress: and Hon. Louie Gohmert Ashley H. Callen Legislative Director/Counsel Office of Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) 510 Cannon HOB Washington, DC 20515 202.225.3035 ph 202.226.1230 fax Dear Congressman Gohmert: I am one of the incarcerated Federal prisoners that you seem to feel are not entitled to any "Perks" upon release from prison. I feel put upon to reply to the letter from Ashley H. Callen, Legislative Director/Counsel in your office. I am one of many thousand federal prisoners. I am also one of many thousand federal prisoners who is truly innocent of the charges levied against me. I was tried and convicted on a charge of "Conspiracy to Money Launder". The conspiracy part is what caused me to receive a very heavy sentence. I was one of about 15 people indicted in a "front money scam".. The fact that I did not do what I was accused and convicted of is irrelevant at this time. I am almost 6 years into a 9 year sentence. I am 62+ years old. I spent the majority of my life as a businesswoman with a reputation for fairness and integrity. I am now a number in the federal prison system. As someone with business savvy, I have tried to help those in here who have not had the opportunities that I have had. I was instrumental in setting up a unit based education class program. This program allows women in the camp to take classes taught by other inmates. These classes range from the basics of tutoring for G.E.D. exams, to construction trades and CPR and Paralegal classes and everything in between. We have about 29 classes of all sorts available. The classes are 10 weeks long and in some cases longer. Women receive a certificate of completion at the end of the sessions. They are required to take a pre-class exam to help the teacher identify the basic knowledge of the students. There is also a post exam prior to receiving a certificate. Women here at camp Coleman are not idle. Many of these women will require assistance when the are ready to leave prison. Many of these women are first time non-violent offenders. Many were caught up in the minimum mandatory drug laws and are here for 10, 20 & 30 years. A number of these women gave birth to their children in prison and have had to rely on others to raise their children. So many of these women are anxious to begin a new life and a better life for themselves and their children. You and others like you, are trying to stop what could be a wonderful program in re-entry and family stabilization. Career education and training, drug counseling if required. From what I have read of the Second Chance Act, there are no provisions for cell phones or I-pods or Blackberry's. Nor is there any pork in the bill for people to go out and not work and not support themselves. All of this would require a great deal of effort on the part of the person re-entering society. Sir, are you aware of the cost of incarceration? At my age (62+), having been hospitalized three times in six years, the cost for maintaining out elderly in prison is in the range of $70,000, per person per year. For younger people the cost is approximately $29,000. multiply that cost by the an average of 200,000 federal prisoners. Astronomical isn't it? On the other hand the cost of 1 year of community college is $1,500. Which would make more sense. Teaching our inmates to become better people or keeping them in prisons? The cost of keeping an elderly person in home confinement would be somewhere around $2,000 yearly vs $70,000. Which would make more sense? The cost of incarceration is not only the dollars, but the family ties and community ties that are in some cases irreparable. I lost my husband of 28 years shortly after I was indicted. The stress that we were put under with the advent of my upcoming trail and monetary concerns caused him to have a massive heart attack. He died in my arms. My life was shattered. Not only was I facing a trial, but I was facing financial ruin in my golden years. I have lost everything that I worked for my entire life. I lost my husband as a direct result of this unjust charge, I lost my Mom shortly after I was incarcerated and my son no longer speaks to me. I have nothing to fall back on. I have no savings and no health care and no home to go back to. Yet you want me to leave prison with no financial or educational resources. Why? Do you think that it will be easy at this age to face a new beginning? Do you think that somewhere I have hidden resources to regain a life, any kind of life? My family, what there is left of them, is unable to care for me financially. They can help me with a place to live but then I am on my own. I will not be able to go back into the business that I know. I have to start from scratch. Can you tell me how to do that if I cannot access any government aid. As a convicted felon, I have no chance of renting an apartment, getting food stamps, or even getting any federal aid for education. As a convicted felon, I will be unable to get any sort of a job except maybe entry level. I have a number of things against me. My age, and worst of all a felony conviction. With the help of the Second Chance Act, I had a Second Chance available. You seem to feel that it is okay to throw me away. What you fail to realize is that I am you and you sir are me. You and most people do not realize that they are but a pen stroke away from a federal indictment. The proverbial ham sandwich being indicted. Isn't it less expensive and easier to retrain people and offer them a means to support themselves than to force them to return to illegal means as a way of life? Isn't it less expensive to allow these former felons to develop self esteem and to hold their heads up and become a productive member of society? Wouldn't there be more money available for Veteran's programs if there were fewer incarcerated? Why are you and some of your respected colleagues trying to hold us down? I have never been involved in drugs, but drugs can be self perpetuating and cause a ripple effect for years to come. The felons in prison for drug offenses, need to be able to leave here and feel gain self worth and feel that they made a mistake and paid their debt and that it will not be held against them the rest of their lives. If you do not feel that this is an issue to be reckoned with, I and many like me will disagree as strongly as possible. I firmly believe that these programs outlined in the Second Chance should be administered by people who are best able to utilize the funds to the max. If the answer lies in Faith based programs, let it be so. I have no problem with that. I truly believe that these programs will help people for many years to come. This is not a stop gap measure. This is a long range plan to help people help themselves stay out of prison. Recidivism is highest among the unemployed and the unemployable. You can put an end to this. The recidivism rate among the over 50 group is about 2%. So why are the elderly being forced to stay in prison settings where the medical care is virtually non-existent. There are no provisions for the elderly in prison. We are given very little, if any preventive care. Heart attacks, strokes and in my case bleeding ulcers are rampant. 15 months ago, I was hospitalized with bleeding ulcers. I almost died here at the camp because of the incompetent care that I received. I was told that there was nothing wrong with me except for high blood sugar. This is not now and never has been a problem in my life. I was bleeding internally, but no one here recognized the symptoms. There is no managed care. There is no real food. The allotted cost for feeding inmates is somewhere around $1.62 per day per person, below the poverty level. Poor food, poor housing conditions, unclean housing units and little medical care add up to a very expensive cost of incarceration. Hospital stays for people like me are expensive. I have been hospitalized three times, the last time just this past week. I have undergone surgery that could have been prevented. I respectfully ask that you reconsider your opposition to this bill. Allow me to go home and become a productive member of the senior society. I have much to offer and would like to see my family again outside of the confines of prison. I do not want to die in here, and that is a very real fear. I am not alone in that fear. We have many women here who are older than I and in worse physical health. We are Social Security eligible and Medicare eligible, some of us are even able to work outside of the home. Allow the prison system to save the thousands of dollars a year that they spend on me and the other elderly. Take that money and put it to programs for the Vets. We are not asking for I-pods or Blackberry's or cell phones. We are asking for a chance. Certainly if you or someone that you care about were in this position, you would be pushing for this bill to pass. Our families feel the same way. I may not be able to vote now, but at some point I will again be able to vote and I would like to think that the candidate of choice is a person who is fair minded and caring. I believe that with your support and the support of other Republicans this bill, which is advocated by the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons and American Bar Association, the Public Defenders Association to name a few, would be passed. Sincerely, Judie Giglio Reg.No. 11197-017 Federal Correction Complex Camp P.O. Box 1027 Coleman, Fl. 33521-1027 P.S. This letter is being forwarded to your office by my daughter, as copy is being forwarded to Gene Guerro Open Society Institute and FedCure.
United States

Feature: US Sentencing Commission Again Calls on Congress to Fix Crack-Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity
the late Lillie Blevins, served life sentence for a crack cocaine ''conspiracy'' after being convicted on the word of a snitch who received probation in return (courtesy
In its annual report to Congress, the US Sentencing Commission has once again called on legislators to reduce the tough penalties for federal crack cocaine offenses. The commission's previous calls to fix the 100:1 disparity between the amount of crack and the amount of powder cocaine necessary to trigger mandatory minimum sentences have either been ignored or slapped down by previous Congresses. Whether the new Democratic majority in Congress will allow reform to be accomplished this year remains to be seen.

Under federal law in effect since 1987, someone charged with possessing five grams of crack faces a mandatory minimum five-year sentence. By contrast, it takes 500 grams of powder cocaine -- one hundred times as much -- to trigger the same sentence.

While the Sentencing Commission cannot itself enact changes in the crack cocaine law -- that's up to Congress -- it has already signaled its impatience with congressional inaction. A little more than two weeks ago, the commission adjusted federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenses so that crack offenders will serve on average about a year less than under the old guidelines. That move alone will provide small relief to thousands of federal crack prisoners.

But the real problem is the harsh mandatory minimums for federal crack offenses. The Sentencing Commission found that:

  1. The current quantity-based penalties overstate the relative harmfulness of crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine.
  2. The current quantity-based penalties sweep too broadly and apply most often to lower level offenders.
  3. The current quantity-based penalties overstate the seriousness of most crack cocaine offenses and fail to provide adequate proportionality.
  4. The current severity of crack cocaine penalties mostly impacts minorities.

"Based on these findings," the report read, "the Commission maintains its consistently held position that the 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio significantly undermines the various congressional objectives set forth in the Sentencing Reform Act." While noting that setting appropriate thresholds is "a difficult and imprecise undertaking that ultimately is a policy decision," the Commission nevertheless "strongly and unanimously" urged Congress to adopt the following recommendations:

  1. Increase the five-year and ten-year statutory mandatory minimum threshold quantities for crack cocaine offenses to focus the penalties more closely on serious and major traffickers as described generally in the legislative history of the 1986 Act.
  2. Repeal the mandatory minimum penalty provision for simple possession of crack cocaine under 21 U.S.C. § 844.
  3. Reject addressing the 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio by decreasing the five-year and ten-year statutory mandatory minimum threshold quantities for powder cocaine offenses, as there is no evidence to justify such an increase in quantity-based penalties for powder cocaine offenses (e.g., don't increase powder cocaine sentences).
graph from report, crack cocaine amounts nearly invisible next to the powder amounts
Groups that have long advocated for reform of the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity and the removal of mandatory minimum sentences reacted with pleasure mixed with a hint of impatience. They have been waiting a long time for action on this front.

"The prisoners, children and families torn apart by these unjustifiably harsh penalties are watching closely and will welcome crack sentencing reforms that restore some justice to crack penalties," said Mary Price, vice president and general counsel of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM). "Only Congress can change our harsh mandatory minimum crack laws. Lawmakers should not squander the important opportunity presented by the most recent set of findings and recommendations by the Sentencing Commission. The time is ripe for reform, especially given the bipartisan support for crack sentencing reform that has emerged in recent years."

"The current sentencing structure has had a disproportionate and unfair impact on African-American and low income communities," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, "and we're encouraged that the US Sentencing Commission has once again acknowledged this fact. But 2007 marks the fourth time in 20 years that the commission has issued such a report, and Congress has yet to address the problem. Years of medical and legal research have shown no appreciable difference between crack and powder cocaine, and no justification for allowing the vast sentencing gap between them to stand. We urge Congress to put aside politics and act now to fix this discriminatory federal drug sentencing policy."

But it is not reform advocates but members of Congress who will or will not enact most reforms. While in the past, Congress has rejected such recommendations from the Commission, there are some indications support for reforms is growing.

"It's past time to reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences actually," Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions told National Public Radio, "because the penalties on crack cocaine are extraordinarily heavy -- too heavy to be justified as public policy." His colleagues should listen to the Commission, Sessions added. Sessions has already introduced a bill that would reduce the disparity to 20:1.

Another key player, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the legal publication the Daily Journal the report's findings were "an important first step" in correcting the sentencing disparity. "For far too long, the federal crack/powder sentencing laws have created an injustice in our nation," he said. Leahy said he hopes that federal prosecutors will focus more on drug kingpins.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware), who has announced his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, has also weighed in. "This 100:1 disparity is unjust, unfair, and the time has long past for it to be undone," Biden said in a Tuesday press release. "The current sentencing disparity between the two forms of cocaine is based on false notions and old logic," said Sen. Biden. "Congress has ignored this issue for too long. I intend to introduce legislation to remedy the disparity and refocus the federal cocaine sentencing laws and federal resources on major drug kingpins, as was the intent of the 1986 law. I look forward to working with my colleagues -- Republicans and Democrats -- and urge them to support righting this wrong."
DEA crack cocaine photo
"There is indeed growing support for reducing the disparities," said Bill Piper, head of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Biden, Sessions, and Sen. Hatch [R-Utah] are all working on bills, and so is Charley Rangel [D-New York] in the House," he told Drug War Chronicle. "There is growing support in the judiciary committees for doing something."

But, Piper warned, the devil is in the details. "They agree that something needs to be done, but I'm not sure they will reach agreement on what needs to be done. Then it would have to pass floor votes, and then we have to wonder if Bush would veto it," he said. "But when you have the Sentencing Commission and leading Republicans signing off on something, the Democrats should be emboldened. That shows this is a bipartisan effort."

Even the Justice Department is wavering. While Piper noted that the department has long taken the position that there was no problem, department spokesman Bryan Sierra told the Daily Journal this week that the agency is "willing to discuss the disparity in the ratio for sentencing between crack and powder cocaine," but he added that the department believes that "it should be done in the broader context of sentencing reform."

For the fourth time since 1995, the Sentencing Commission has urged Congress to act to reduce the disparity and bring greater fairness to sentencing. Now it is in Congress' hands.


Alex Coolman has a nice summary of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment and its history over at Drug Law Blog. I haven't heard yet about this year, but will let you all know when I do... Read our '06 Hinchey-Rohrabacher coverage here and here.
Washington, DC
United States

FAMM urges Congress to heed message from Commission, New report finds crack disparity unjustifiable, up to Congress to fix the problem

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Federal crack cocaine penalties overstate the harmfulness of the drug, apply mostly to low-level offenders, and hit minorities hardest, concludes the U.S. Sentencing Commission in a new report to Congress, "Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy," released today, May 15. Based on these findings, the Commission maintains it's consistently held position that current crack cocaine penalties significantly undermine the congressional objectives of the Sentencing Reform Act, including fairness, uniformity and proportionality. The solution? Congress should act, says the report. Mary Price, vice president and general counsel of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a national, nonpartisan sentencing reform organization, says, "The prisoners, children and families torn apart by these unjustifiably harsh penalties are watching closely and will welcome crack sentencing reforms that restore some justice to crack penalties. Only Congress can change our harsh mandatory minimum crack laws. Lawmakers should not squander the important opportunity presented by the most recent set of findings and recommendations by the Sentencing Commission. The time is ripe for reform, especially given the bipartisan support for crack sentencing reform that has emerged in recent years." In its report, the Commission again unanimously and strongly urged Congress to act promptly on the following recommendations: (1) Increase the five-year and ten-year mandatory minimum threshold quantities for crack cocaine offenses to focus the penalties more closely on serious and major traffickers, (2) Repeal the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine and (3) Reject addressing the 100-to-1 disparity by decreasing the five-year and ten-year mandatory minimum threshold quantities for powder cocaine offenses, citing no evidence to justify such an increase in quantity-based penalties for powder cocaine offenses. In addition, the Commission seeks authority to incorporate any future changes to the mandatory minimums for crack into the federal sentencing guidelines. FAMM strongly supports these recommendations and looks forward to working with members of Congress to implement these reasonable and long-overdue reforms to crack cocaine sentencing. Visit to read the report. --------------------------------------------------- Note on Second Chance Act H.R. 1593, the Second Chance Act, was pulled from the floor of the House of Representatives before it was voted on. FAMM is investigating this unexpected action and will follow up with more information on and ealerts. --------------------------------------------------- What is FAMM? FAMM is the national voice for fair and proportionate sentencing laws. We shine a light on the human face of sentencing, advocate for state and federal sentencing reform and mobilize thousands of individuals and families whose lives are adversely affected by unjust sentences. For more information, visit or email
Washington, DC
United States

Border Violence Concerns State Officials

United States
News 92.3 KTAR (AZ)

Coordinated Drug War Raids as Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying

Peter Guither at the Drug WarRant blog has pointed out what he calls a "blatant and pathetic effort" by the State of Kentucky to secure drug war funding from Congress:
State police, local law enforcement, sheriff's offices, HIDTA and multi-jurisdictional drug task forces throughout the nation collectively conducted undercover investigations, search warrants, consent searches, marijuana eradication efforts, drug interdiction and arrest warrants for a period of one week. This collective effort, Operation Byrne Drugs II, was conducted from April 23-29 to highlight the need and effectiveness of the Byrne grant funding and the impact cuts to this funding could have on local and statewide drug enforcement.
Actually it is the media efforts that seem to be coordinated, in addition to the drug enforcement. I noticed a suspiciously similar press release distributed by the California Dept. of Justice last July about a suspiciously similar incident:
BNE task forces, comprised of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, throughout the state served 16 search warrants, seized three firearms, confiscated 53 pounds of methamphetamine, 91 pounds of marijuana, and 37,747 marijuana plants. State drug enforcement agencies across the U.S. on July 27, 2006 participated in a "national day of drug enforcement." Organized by the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, "Operation Byrne Drugs" promoted the continued funding of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program that supports local and statewide drug enforcement. The federally funded program has suffered deep cuts over the last few years, directly affecting BNE. In fiscal year 2001-02, BNE received more than $11.5 million for personnel and operating costs. In fiscal year 2006-07, BNE received less than $6 million, nearly a 50% decline over five years.
your tax dollars at work to get more of your tax dollars Now I run an advocacy group, and I can tell you with confidence that this is exactly what groups who want to achieve a legislative objective will do -- organize media-worthy events in order to get the attention of the policymakers you need to influence, in this case Congress. The main differences between what we do and what the narcs are doing are that: 1) They are using taxpayer funds to carry out their media/lobbying campaign to secure taxpayer funds; and 2) They are using the authority the government has given them to wield state power including guns in order to arrest and incarcerate people, as a component of their media-lobbying campaign. We will generally just hold a press conference or a rally, or issue a report. I suspect that in strict legal terms they have not violated the law. But make no mistake -- this is lobbying of Congress by state agencies to get our money, and they are destroying numerous lives in order to do it. I don't agree with drug enforcement at all (as readers know), but even for those who do, clearly enforcement decisions about when and whom to raid should be based on law enforcement/public safety needs, NOT politics. Unfortunately, it is not only drug money that corrupts our law enforcement; it is drug war money too.
United States

FedCURE News: Prospective and Retroactive Application of the New USSC Crack Cocaine Guideline Amendment

On 27 April 2007, the US Sentencing Commission (USSC) voted to approve an amendment of the crack cocaine guidelines to lower applicable sentence ranges. In its press release (, the USSC announced that a forthcoming report "will set forth current data and information that continue to support the Commission's consistently held position that the 100-to-1 crack-powder drug quantity ratio significantly undermines various congressional objectives set forth in the Sentencing Reform Act and elsewhere." The report has not been published as of this date. FedCURE will post the report as soon as it becomes available. You can check the USSC site at: Because of Booker and various retroactivity rules, it is uncertain as to how the crack amendment will impact present and past cases. Prospectively, the new guidelines could effect 4,000 to 5,000 federal sentencing cases every year. The USSC has authority to make amendments retroactive, albeit, rarely does. The USSC 27 April 2007 press release does not address the issue of retroactivity, and those currently incarcerated for crack offense--some 50,000 to 60,000 federal offenders--are anxious to know. Hopefully the much anticipated USSC report will answer this question and more. It is noted here that the USSC guideline amendment is only a proposal to Congress. The House and the Senate would have to enact specific bills to defeat the amendment. Congress will have six months to consider the amendment. However, the law states that if Congress takes no action before 01 November 2007, the amendment automatically takes effect on 01 November 2007. FedCURE P.O. Box 15667 Plantation, Florida 33318-5667 USA Web Site: E-mail:
United States

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