1 in 17 federal inmates involved (12,000?). This afternoon the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously today to give retroactive effect to its proposed permanent amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines that implements the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. Last year Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act that reduced the penalty on crack cocaine after 26 years of particularly harsh sentencing on a drug disproportionately used by poor black males. A few stories news…
House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smithlobbied the commission not to grant sentencing retroactivity that could give early releases and warned it, “merely gets criminals back into action faster.”
Last Week, Reps. Scott, Conyers and Ellison Dropped a Cocaine Retroactivity Bill. Reps. Bobby Scott, Ron Paul, John Conyers, Roscoe Bartlett, Alcee Hastings, and Keith Ellison, introduced the Fair Sentencing Clarification Act of 2011 to further clarify the retroactively issue. “There is absolutely no reason that individuals sentenced under the old crack cocaine laws should not receive the benefit of the FSA … Congress has acknowledged that the 100-to-1 disparity was fundamentally unfair and had a racially disparate impact. People sentenced under the old law should not be required to serve out sentences imposed as a result of what Congress has now recognized to be an unjust law,” said Rep. Scott.
In August 2010, the President signed the Fair Sentencing Act which reduced the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine in federal law to 18-to-1. Before the FSA, it took only 5 grams of crack cocaine to trigger a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence, but for powder cocaine it took 500 grams to trigger the same 5-year mandatory minimum sentence. The Fair Sentencing Clarification Act would allow all offenders, regardless of when they were arrested or convicted, to receive the benefit of the changes that Congress made in the Fair Sentencing Act.