I’ve been accused of many things in my public career, but as a former U.S. Attorney and head of the DEA, nobody has ever accused me of being soft on crime – particularly drug crime. So you may be surprised to find me coming down on the other side of our respected Attorney General with regard to sentencing guidelines on crack and powder cocaine.

General Mukasey suggests that America’s streets will be flooded with violent felons if the U.S. Sentencing Commission proceeds with its plans to retroactively apply equal sentencing guidelines to individuals convicted of using coke — whether it’s crack or powder.

Giving testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today, General Mukasey asserted: “Unless Congress acts by the March 3 deadline, nearly 1,600 convicted crack dealers, many of them violent gang members, will be eligible for immediate release into communities nationwide. Retroactive application of these new lower guidelines will pose significant public safety risks. Many of these offenders are among the most serious and violent offenders in the federal system and their early release, without the benefit of appropriate re-entry programs, at a time when violent crime has increased in some communities will produce tragic, but predictable results.”

Unfortunately, the Attorney General misses some key facts. First, individuals convicted of violent crimes would not have their sentences for such crimes reduced, regardless of other drug convictions. Somebody in jail because of a violent crime conviction would remain in jail.

Second, I do agree that some individuals convicted only on drug charges may have simply plea-bargained down their cases from more serious and violent crimes. Anybody who may pose a threat to society should not be released. This is why each case must undergo judicial review.

The truth is that for years our legal system enforced an unfair approach to sentencing guidelines. It makes no sense that somebody arrested for using crack cocaine should receive a substantially longer prison term than somebody who is convicted of using powder cocaine. It’s long past time to reduce that disparity.

  • Metalfreiza

    This argument to equalize the punishment is totally ridiculous, and I'm already tired of reading about it-that law need not be changed! The fact that crack is cheap and therefore more available to the poor has nothing to do with it because crack is highly addictive to the rich and the poor alike, so poor people just need to find a new way to make $ without getting everyone hooked on super-addictive drugs for god's sake! I know which one is more addictive because I've tried them, and I hate coke! When you hit crack you go str8 to that heavenly whole body orgasm in like ten seconds and IMMEDIATELY want more and badly as it takes you to the same place a lot faster than coke, so of course it is more addictive! I'm enraged by people who argue that just because black people aren't as likely to actually use crack and are more likely to get busted selling it (or having it for an unknown reason-their case somehow merely “involves” crack-stupid defense), they don't deserve any harsh punishments. They won't taste their own medicine because they'd rather use addicts, who are willing to pay their outrageous prices, for $ and power! Why not contrast this idea with the one that Mexico had about why they should legalize small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, and heroine for personal use. They did that because they didn't want to continue to fill their jails with “people who have these addictions”. In the same way, people who are busted with possessing coke or small amounts of crack for personal use in the USA may be offered rehab as part of a deferral program to help with their addiction because they are prone to use (5 grams is NOT a small amount of crack for personal use). But then we have these non-using, black, crack dealers! They don't get involved with crack because they have a substance abuse problem at all as half of them have never used it in their whole life; they only get involved with crack because they don't wanna work, and they wanna make free $ on the black market even though they know that it could be at the expense of their own freedom! They actually DECIDE to do that in spite of the well-known consequences. They're too smart to be foolish enough to use the addictive substance, but the truth is they're not smart enough to keep from getting set up and sent to prison for life for selling it to criminal informants like myself. They just need to go to jail for trying to mess everyone up for free $! And I think that the fact that they don't use makes their involvement with the substance less understandable and not more so! If the punishment for crack is so bad, why don't they just stop selling crack? Most white people find other, more productive, ways to make a living as they are less likely get caught in that net of justice because crack is an extremely addictive drug that is dangerous to get busted screwing around with and for good reason! They're always getting busted with it, yet statistics show they don't use it as much. So it's laughable to suggest that they should be offered any chance of drug treatment instead of prison. That will not fix them-they are sick, lazy people looking for any easy way OUT and using a hard substance that often ends up being an easy way IN to some hard time! It's not racial disparity, it's disparity against fools!