Feds May Release 19,500 Early in Crack Cases
The U.S. Sentencing Commission reportedly is considering an unprecedented proposal for a mass commutation of disproportionately harsh sentences meted out in drug cases involving crack cocaine.
If approved, it is expected to affect one in 10 federal prisoners and reduce their sentences by about two years, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The Justice Department, the newspaper says, opposes the mass sentence commutation and is warning of dire consequences, including a potential increase in violent crime, if it goes through and some 19,500 prisoners are released early. However, many federal judges, inmate advocates and civil rights groups say it is simply a matter of fairness.
“The far-reaching move,” the Times writes, “is aimed at addressing what is seen as an unfair disparity in federal cocaine laws dating to the mid-1980s that have imposed much harsher punishment on crack cocaine users and dealers than in powder cocaine cases. About 80% of those sentenced on federal crack charges every year are African American.”