U.S. Sentencing Commission Issues New Recommendations on Federal Sentencing Guidelines

April 28, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington – In a public hearing Friday evening, the United States Sentencing Commission voted to amend the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for federal crack cocaine offenses. Distributing just five grams of crack for example, carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence, while distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence.

The USSC is expected to formally issue its report to Congress on or before May 15.

The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“The ACLU is disappointed the U.S. Sentencing Commission did not recommend equalizing the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, despite the wealth of research and data they’ve collected over the years indicating no medical or legal reason for the disparity. This unjust policy is based on little more than politics and urban myths, yet it’s been allowed to stand for over 20 years, devastating African-American communities in the process.

“The commission did take a small step in the right direction, correcting the inconsistency in sentencing guidelines that resulted in many defendants receiving sentences above the five-year mandatory minimum even when the circumstances of their crime did not warrant such a sentence.

“Now it’s time for Congress to act. Members of Congress must not allow politics and myths about crack and its users to prevent them from doing what’s right. We urge Congress to eliminate the 100:1 federal sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine, a misguided drug policy that does more harm than good.”

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