U.S. Recommends Early Release for 19,500 Crack Offenders

The sentencing disparity that punishes offenders 100 times worse for crack than for powder cocaine has taken a double hit this week. First the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that judges may depart from unreasonable federal sentencing guidelines. Then, today, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to make the recently revised sentencing guidelines retroactive, meaning that incarcerated offenders may request early release.
Today in an historic vote, the Commission unanimously agreed to allow prisoners serving crack cocaine sentences to seek sentence reductions that went into effect on November 1. Retroactivity will affect 19,500 federal prisoners, almost 2,520 of whom could be eligible for early release in the first year. Federal courts will administer the application of the retroactive guideline, which is not automatic. Courts may refuse to grant sentence reductions to individuals if they believe they could pose a public safety risk.

"The Sentencing Commission made the tough but fair decision to remedy injustice, showing courage and leadership in applying the guideline retroactively. Clearly, justice should not turn on the date an individual is sentenced," said Julie Stewart, president and founder of FAMM. "Retroactivity of the crack guideline not only affects the lives of nearly 20,000 individuals in prison but that of thousands more - mothers, fathers, daughters and sons - who anxiously wait for them to return home," said Stewart. [FAMM]
It took 20 years to even begin taking the teeth out of this vicious law, but it's clear we've now crossed a threshold. Once the curtain was pulled back and the utter racism and ignorance that defined federal cocaine sentencing was revealed for what it was, we witnessed leading politicians jumping on the bandwagon in favor of reform.

So often, we're told by fair-weather supporters of this work that we're naïve; that the power structure forever feeds on the misery of the downtrodden; that the insatiable prison industrial complex and its carnivorous lobbyist minions will always call the shots and that we're pissing in the wind if we think the truths we speak will find traction amidst the marketplace of foul and corrupt ideas that dominate the political culture in our nation's capital.

Indeed, this is a steep uphill battle. But in so many ways, we've moved beyond the initial stage of demonstrating the need for change. They know. Our mission now is to help those in power convert these observations into ideas, then into persuasive words, and finally into decisive actions. Politicians are not always blind to right and wrong, rather they hedge their bets and often fear the political consequences of true leadership above the social consequences of intransigence.

These matters are far from resolved, but today brought hope to 19,500 non-violent drug offenders and their families. It is a victory for justice, a rebuke of the racist drug war doctrine, and, with patience and some luck, a humble sign of bigger things to come.
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Are marijuana prisoners next in line for early release?

Jail for a marijuana offense seems like unreasonable federal sentencing to me.

3 year sentence

my boyfriend was arrested for drugs xaxex and weed he was givin a three year sentence his release date is 20011 do you think hell get out on early release or do the whole 3 years

family member serving 33 years for cocaine

he is wondering when he get his pardon his # 09385-045, Mr. Craig Patterson, he has lost his mother, brother,aunt as well as a uncle while he has been in prison, please grant him his pardon, before he loses another family member.

From a heart broke cousin....

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