Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Both Houses of Congress Now Considering Criminal Justice Legislation

with one comment

With the introduction of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act in the House earlier this week, both houses of Congress are now considering the legislation, which has already been making its way through the Senate. Here’s why the ACLU endorses the bill (the quote is from ACLU lobbyist Laura Murphy):

“Our badly broken justice system is in desperate need of an overhaul and the National Criminal Justice Commission Act will put a mechanism in place that can address that need. Our current criminal justice system is both unfair and unsustainable. America’s minorities have been suffering under our unbalanced criminal justice system due to unfair statutes, including our disparate crack powder sentencing guidelines. Judges are forced to use mandatory minimums as a one-size-fits-all solution to complex cases, forcing too many Americans to spend too much time behind bars.”

Of course, few people who study the criminal justice system would disagree with those statements, but is a blue-ribbon commission the best solution? Over at Sentencing Law & Policy, Doug Berman is skeptical:

I think much good could come from having a new “blue-ribbon bipartisan commission charged with undertaking an 18-month comprehensive review of the Nation’s criminal justice system,” especially if this National Criminal Justice Commission is effectively staffed and funded.  But I am fearful that the creation of a new study commission, who won’t issue recommendations until probably 2012 or beyond, could become a distraction from the critical important federal criminal justice reform work that could and should be getting done right now. [Such as, Berman suggests, eliminating the cocaine/crack federal sentencing disparity.]

Written by sara

April 28, 2010 at 1:47 pm

One Response

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  1. Under the current law, the crack-powder disparity has particular affected the AFRICAN-AMERICAN community. For US to be sleeping at the wheel on this one while our President has redefined the true definition of BLACK POWER in this country and our lifetimes is disrespectful to the efforts of the work of our President. FA REAL. The most current data shows although BLACKS make up 30% of crack users, they comprise more than 80% of those convicted of federal crack offense. As the law stands, a person convicted of crack cocaine possession gets the same mandatory jail time as someone with 100 times that quantity of powder cocaine. Now put that on ya pipe and smoke it!

    President Obama made changes in the crack-powder disparity part of his presidential campaign promise and he is making the most sincere effort in history to actually deliver on his promise. That’s political gangsta-ism as its finest! And if the last fact was not enough, Obama is pushing a line on them white boys in Washington in the name of crack addicts! I wanna say that what Obama has done for the crack addict is just as powerful as what Jesus did on the cross for the sinner, but I am scared I might go to hell for blasphemy. So I’ll just say “It is Christ-like. Amen” but more importantly its needed and necessary for those who were/are lost 100 times over and beyond the “quantity of powder cocaine.”

    Angellee Kidd

    May 9, 2010 at 4:35 pm


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