New rules in the drug war
The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to retroactively reduce penalties for using and selling crack cocaine, making thousands of prisoners eligible for early release. It will take more than that to "restore some fairness," said the Baltimore Sun.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted Tuesday to retroactively reduce penalties for using and selling crack cocaine, making 2,500 federal prisoners eligible for early release in March and potentially affecting 19,500 people serving time for crack offenses. (Los Angeles Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
The Sentencing Commission’s decision “should help restore some fairness,” said the Baltimore Sun in an editorial, “but it comes after too many people have already served too much time.” Minority crack offenders have long paid stiffer penalties for their crimes than “white couterparts” dealing powder cocaine, and “Congress needs to enact more comprehensive relief.”
The Supreme Court has paved the way for lawmakers, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). Two 7-2 rulings this week “restored a vital measure of discretion,” letting judges impose sentences as they see fit instead of adhering to strict guidelines. “The rulings provide fresh impetus for Congress to rewrite the grotesquely unfair crack cocaine laws” that influenced sentencing guidelines.
The court and the Sentencing Commission have taken only one baby step, said the Orange County Register in an editorial. The unjust sentencing disparity dates to the 1980s, when everyone believed that crack was more dangerous than powder cocaine. Now that fear of the crack “epidemic” has subsided, Congress should “eliminate” the disparity, or even “end the ridiculous war on drugs that has created so much more misery and despair than the drugs themselves ever did.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
MOST POPULAR ON THE WEEK
- What is driving the increasingly weird behavior of the polar jet stream?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Christians have no moral rationale for spanking their children
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Should you hope to die at 75? Absolutely not.
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Why America should team up with Bashar al-Assad's regime
- Stop hating on cyclists
Subscribe to the Week