Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fair Sentencing Act

When people list the accomplishments of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress of the last two years, you almost never hear about the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act. It reduced the 100:1 disparity in mandatory minimums for people convicted of offenses related to crack vs power cocaine. One has to wonder whether the lack of attention to this bill is because the disparities primarily affected young black men.

Today, in testimony before the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Attorney General Eric Holder took it one step further.

Saying that the Fair Sentencing Act that narrowed the disparity between penalties for crack and power cocaine offenses has been "a historic step forward," Attorney Gen. Eric Holder pushed today for retroactively applying the lighter crack penalties to some offenders now serving time.

"We have more to do," Holder said in a statement prepared for a hearing held this morning by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. "Although the Fair Sentencing Act is being successfully implemented nationwide, achieving its central goals of promoting public safety and public trust — and ensuring a fair and effective criminal justice system – requires the retroactive application of its guideline amendment."

Of course conservatives don't like this idea one bit.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R., Texas.), who opposed the bill before it became law in 2010, said commissioners would be overstepping their role if they approve retroactivity.

"Nothing in the act nor in the congressional record implies that Congress ever intended that the new crack-cocaine guidelines should be applied retroactively," he said in a written statement. Mr. Smith said the administration's position "sends a dangerous message to criminals and would-be drug offenders that Congress doesn't take drug crimes seriously."

And some liberals are so busy criticizing Obama for not doing enough to deal with these issues that they seem to have missed the progress that is actually being made.

Seeing all of that makes me want to respond with a statement to President Obama and AG Holder...Way to go! I've got your back.

2 comments:

  1. We had discussed this in an earlier post re: the false meme often pushed by some black "leaders" that PBO had done nothing for black folk.

    The Fair Sentencing Act is, in my opinion, a VERY important piece of legislation that would throw a very sizable dart into that lie. Of course there is MUCH more to do, but this is NOT small potatoes.

    And, HEAVENS!!! The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ is actually hiring lawyers with - GASP - Civil Rights experience????

    But, naaaah....PBO is just in his ivory tower being afraid of free black men to really be bothered. I'm just sure it is cake for "us" all.

    S.M.H.

    Preach, Ms. Pants, Preach

    And, a very good night to you.

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  2. Perhaps we should start telling the bedtime story about the three bears...too much for some quarters, not enough for others. But there are those of us who see that reality means being able to calibrate it all just about right.

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