Republican and Democratic Senators Query Gonzales on Crack Sentencing Views

User "puregenius" reports over in the Reader Blogs that Republican and Democratic senators -- Jeff Sessions and Pat Leahy -- queried Alberto Gonzales about his views on the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity, in last Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Dept. of Justice oversight. Short answer -- he likes it, they don't. Update: Just saw this link on TalkLeft to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case of Derrick Kimbrough, a federal prisoner serving time on a crack cocaine offense. LDF contends that "The Crack Cocaine Sentencing Guidelines Have Resulted in Vast Racial Disparities" and "The Racial Disparities Associated with the Crack Cocaine Sentencing Guidelines Have Caused Widespread Distrust of the Law.
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puregenius's picture

Thanks for the mention Dave

One of the really sad things about all this, is how the crack/powder disparity is designed to target people of color and low income individuals. The strongest indication of this is how Congress responded to Len Bias's death and his Mother's subsequent testimony. On it's face, It would seem that he died of crack overdose. Of course he didn't, but Congress wasn't about to let a little thing like the truth get in the way of the kind of discrimination that has it roots in the post-slavery South.

request for public comment (please support)

UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION
Sentencing Guidelines for United States Courts
AGENCY: United States Sentencing Commission
ACTION: Request for public comment.
SUMMARY: On May 1, 2007, the Commission submitted to the Congress amendments to the sentencing guidelines and official commentary, which become effective on November 1, 2007, unless Congress acts to the contrary. Such amendments and the reasons for amendment subsequently were published in the Federal Register. 72 FR 28558 (May 21, 2007). Two of the amendments, specifically Amendment 9 pertaining to offenses involving cocaine base ("crack") and Amendment 12 pertaining to certain criminal history rules, have the effect of lowering guideline ranges. The Commission requests comment regarding whether either amendment should be included in subsection (c) of §1B1.10 (Reduction in Term of Imprisonment as a Result of Amended Guideline Range (Policy Statement)) as amendments that may be applied retroactively to previously sentenced defendants. The Commission also requests comment regarding whether, if it amends §1B1.10(c) to include either amendment, it also should amend §1B1.10 to provide guidance to the courts on the procedure to be used when applying an amendment retroactively under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).
DATE: Public comment should be received on or before October 1, 2007.
ADDRESS: Send comments to: United States Sentencing Commission, One Columbus Circle, NE, Suite 2-500, South Lobby, Washington, DC 20002-8002, Attention: Public Affairs-Retroactivity Public Comment.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Courlander, Public Affairs Officer, Telephone: (202) 502-4590.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 3582(c)(2) of title 18, United States Code, provides that "in the case of a defendant who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(o), upon motion of the defendant or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or on its own motion, the court may reduce the term of imprisonment, after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission."
The Commission lists in §1B1.10(c) the specific guideline amendments that the court may apply retroactively under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The background commentary to §1B1.10 lists the purpose of the amendment, the magnitude of the change in the guideline range made by the amendment, and the difficulty of applying the amendment retroactively to determine an amended guideline range under §1B1.10(b) as among the factors the Commission considers in selecting the amendments included in §1B1.10(c). To the extent practicable, public comment should address each of these factors.
The text of the amendments referenced in this notice also may be accessed through the Commission’s website at www.ussc.gov.
AUTHORITY: 28 U.S.C. § 994(a), (o), (u); USSC Rules of Practice and Procedure 4.1, 4.3.
Ricardo H. Hinojosa,
Chair

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