Sessions Strikes Again
A central pupose of the federal sentencing guidelines was to create sentencing uniformity: To ensure similar crimes received similar punishments.
It is no surprise, then, that the guidelines get a lot of criticism for penalizing possession of crack cocaine at one hundred times the severity they do powder cocaine. Add into the mix Congress’s racial makeup as well as the fact that crack is primarily used by blacks and the attacks only increase.
Though the guidelines are now advisory, district court decisions that took into account the criticisms have not faired well on appeal.
So it is refreshing to hear Jeff Sessions call for reducing the disparity.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, a one-time federal prosecutor, introduced a bill Tuesday that would reduce the “unconscionable” disparity in federal prison terms for crack and powder cocaine offenses.
“The 100-to-1 disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine is not justifiable … these changes will make the criminal justice system more effective and fair,” said the Republican senator and former Alabama attorney general.
His bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Ken Salazar, D-Colo., all former attorney generals.
The result – 20:1 – is still harsh, but it would be better than the current situation.