Mukasey seeking block of retroactive reduced penalties for crack cocaine crimes

[JURIST] US Attorney General Michael Mukasey [official profile] is expected to testify [hearing notice] before the House Judiciary Committee [official website] Thursday in opposition to a unanimous December 2007 decision by the US Sentencing Commission [official website] to retroactively reduce penalties for crack cocaine offenders [JURIST report]. That decision gives retroactive effect to an earlier amendment to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines [USSC materials] intended to narrow the disparity between sentences for powder and crack cocaine offenses and is scheduled to take effect on March 3, 2008. Mukasey's prepared remarks suggest he will ask Congress to enact legislation to prevent the new crack cocaine guidelines from taking effect, though he has indicated that he may support the shorter recommended prison sentences for first-time, nonviolent offenders.

In remarks to the US Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC last month, Mukasey said as many as 1,600 inmates may be eligible for immediate release [JURIST report] under the new guidelines, many of whom may be violent offenders or have failed to complete community re-entry programs, although some mayors said the released prisoners would be more likely to be nonviolent offenders. AP has more.



 

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