Odds and Ends

“bullet” Scott Morgan on crack (sending them back to you, Scott!) sentencing victories.

The sentencing disparity that punishes offenders 100 times worse for crack than for powder cocaine has taken a double hit this week. First the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that judges may depart from unreasonable federal sentencing guidelines. Then, today, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to make the recently revised sentencing guidelines retroactive, meaning that incarcerated offenders may request early release.

The retroactivity means that over 19,000 inmates could apply for an early release (this would be scattered over 30 years).
This is not a fix or a solution. It does not eliminate the crack-cocaine disparity It is, in fact, a reduction of an unfair pile-on on top of the disparity, which is itself an unjust penalty within the context of an unjust war. However, as Scott says, it’s a good and important step for those individuals and their families.
“bullet” There’s an discussion worth checking out all this week at TPM cafe bookclub on Ethan Brown’s book “Snitch” (which, by its nature, deals heavily with the drug war). Ethan was impressive at the Drug Policy Reform Conference on the Snitching panel — I intend to pick up and read his book at my earliest opportunity. Some good posts are up at TPM — unfortunately, Mark Kleiman is also stinking up the joint between misreading what Ethan has to say and falling back on his old tricks of counting only the costs of drugs and not the costs of the drug war.
“bullet” It’s not enough to make marijuana illegal. These prohibitionists are always looking for ways to pile on charges. A new Marion, Illinois law passed Monday includes: “all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are intended to be used unlawfully in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body cannabis or a controlled substance in violation of the law.”
According to the Marion Daily Republican, this new ordinance means that the “Marion Police Department will be better equipped to control the marijuana trade and use in Marion.”
“bullet” Drug WarRant exceeded the 2 million all time page views mark this week. Drug WarRant also got a big boost this week from reddit and digg, with over 25,000 people visiting the Why is Marijuana Illegal page yesterday. These numbers are pocket change to the big blogs, but quite respectable for a single-issue drug policy blog.

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