Mukasey: Congress Should Quickly Halt Early Crack Releases


Attorney General Michael Mukasey today is asking the House Judiciary Committee to thwart a plan to give thousands of federal crack cocaine offenders a chance to reduce prison sentences that are a hundred times more severe than those meted out for powder cocaine offenses, says the Washington Post. Mukasey will repeat his contention that the potential release of “1,600 convicted crack dealers, many of them violent gang members,” will “pose significant public safety risks.”

The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted in December to retroactively apply more relaxed sentencing guidelines to current inmates. The action was aimed at offsetting a disparity between prison time meted out to those convicted of possession or sale of crack cocaine and the sentences given for powder cocaine crimes. Mukasey wants Congress to act before the panel’s plan takes effect March 3. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton of Washington, D.C., said, “I’m really kind of shocked that Attorney General Mukasey would seemingly not have faith in the American judicial system to do all it can to ensure that violent offenders are not released early and to address a fundamental injustice in the criminal justice process. His position presupposes that judges will be irresponsible in exercising their discretion.”


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