Saturday, March 08, 2008

Crack cocaine ruling begins freeing inmates

It was unfair...

From The Philadelphia Enquirer:

Bradlof Brown was caught selling 4 ounces of crack to an undercover informant in East Oak Lane in January 2004, and was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison.

But Brown, now 51, was released this week after prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed he was eligible for a reduction in his sentence, which U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody then ordered.

Across the nation, prison doors are starting to open for as many as 19,500 inmates as the justice system takes steps to alleviate what many have long complained was a grievous injustice in federal sentencing - harsher prison terms for crack cocaine offenses than for powder cocaine.

In the Philadelphia region, Brown was among about 40 inmates to be released this week or in coming months under guidelines approved by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in December, and various estimates suggest about 700 in eastern Pennsylvania may be eligible for sentence reductions.

The longer sentences hit the African American community hard because black users tend to gravitate toward crack, which is more prevalent in poor urban areas, while white users go more for powder cocaine. The belief was that crack triggered more violent crime, so in the mid-1980s federal guidelines began requiring 100 times more powder cocaine than crack for the same prison term.

That led to growing criticism from defense lawyers, civil-rights activists, and even some judges who felt they had no discretion to impose more equitable sentences.
You punish criminals for the crimes they commit, not for what others commit because of that crime. To say a crack user or dealer, should do more time than any other illegal drug user or seller is just plain wrong. Heck I do not believe use should be against the law at all, it is unconstitutional in reality. Their is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says you can or cannot do drugs. They should be punished for the crimes that drug addicts invariably commit.

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