Opening Statements

Crack Is Whack


The percentage of crack cocaine offenders who received the “safety valve” sentence reduction in fiscal year 2006. This provision grants certain nonviolent drug offenders with little or no criminal history the full benefit of applicable mitigating adjustments under the federal sentencing guidelines—resulting in sentences below mandatory minimum penalty levels. In the same fiscal year, the safety valve reduction was given to 48.4 percent of powder cocaine offenders. The most common reason for the disparity? Crack offenders tended to have more extensive criminal histories than powder cocaine offenders.

Source: U.S. Sentencing Commission report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy, 2007

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A More Approachable Bench


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