Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some Hope for Crack

OK, this is the sort of paradigm shift folks who voted for Obama were hoping for:

Newly appointed Criminal Division chief Lanny A. Breuer told a Senate Judiciary Committee panel this morning that the Obama administration would support bills to equalize punishment for offenders accused of possessing the drug in either form, fulfilling one of the president's campaign pledges.

Breuer explicitly called on Congress to act this term to 'completely eliminate' the sentencing disparity.
The hearing (which you can watch here) was fairly one sided on the issue. The witness representing law enforcement said unequivocally that equalizing crack and powder was the only solution to a situation he called an "unmitigated disaster." The closest thing to a discouraging word came from Senator Lindsay Graham, who seemed most intent on reminding people of the problem that the 100-to-1 ratio was designed to solve (similar to the "9/11 changed everything" argument about torture). The biggest questions revolved around how to apply any change retroactively to folks who have already been sentenced.

I don't expect it next week or even within the next few months, and I suspect retroactivity issues will slow things down. But I think the momentum has finally swung on this issue. Hopefully.

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