Old Crack Sentences Shortened by New Drug Law
(Los Angeles Times) — About 12,000 federal prisoners nationwide may soon be going home, some as much as three years early, under a U.S. Sentencing Commission decision to allow retroactive reductions in prison terms for inmates convicted of crack cocaine offenses. The commission voted unanimously Thursday to bring “unfairly long sentences” for crack offenders, mostly African Americans, more in line with the shorter terms given to powder cocaine offenders, often white and sometimes affluent. Patti B. Saris, the panel’s chairwoman, said that when Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act last year, it “recognized the fundamental unfairness of federal cocaine sentencing policy,” and the commission sought to bridge the disparity between the two prison sentences.