Defense Lawyers Scramble To Seek Reduced Crack Terms


The new federal rule on crack cocaine penalties made about 350 inmates in Chicago eligible for reduced sentences, says the Chicago Tribune. The controversial new rule has defense lawyers scrambling to court on behalf of their clients. Several dozen inmates stand to be released immediately. For defense lawyers, “it’s probably the largest thing on the radar screen right now,” said defender John Meyer. The Justice Department protests the new guideline but says it will comply. Said the department: “We had hoped to tailor the rule to apply only to those who are first-time or non-violent offenders — rather than all 19,500 eligible offenders — but that did not happen.”

In an op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times, Craig Morford, the outgoing acting deputy U.S. attorney general, said the government owed it to inner-city residents not to weaken crack laws. U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo, vice chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, defended the new rule, which he said in typical cases might cut 16 to 24 months from a sentence of 6 to 9 years. “I think crack is a drug that is much more addictive and more troublesome than powder cocaine,” Castillo said. “But does that justify the current penalty system? Absolutely not.”


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