When we got a miniscule amount of sentencing reform regarding crack cocaine, the prohibitionists were all proclaiming doom and gloom, panic in the streets, and the end of the world.
Here’s one example from one year ago:
The Bush administration announced yesterday that it is seeking $200 million to help cities fight violent crime, citing as one of its reasons, the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s decision to give convicted crack cocaine offenders a chance for an earlier release.
Speaking before the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said that “a sudden influx of criminals from federal prison into your communities could lead to a surge in new victims as a tragic, but predictable, result.”
So it’s been a year. Have you seen a surge of new victims as a result of sentencing reform? No. You never see a surge of new victims as a result of sentencing reform. You only see a surge of new victims when you ratchet up the drug war (as in Mexico).
Douglas Berman, at Sentencing Law and Policy has been following this issue closely. Here’s one example of how smooth it’s going.
For the most part, the process has gone smoothly in the two federal courthouses that serve the Quad-Cities, officials said. Prosecutors and defense attorneys worked with probation officers to sift through applications to determine who was eligible and who was not. People with mandatory sentences and career offender status were out. A few people convicted of other types of crime attempted to ask for reductions, too.
In the Central District of Illinois, of which the Illinois Quad-Cities is a part, 307 cases were considered as of the beginning of December, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Of those 139 were granted, and 168 were denied. The average decrease was 28 months.
This is typical of the news (or lack thereof) related to this reform, despite attempts to paint all such drug offenders as scary and dangerous to the community if they’re released after 16 years of prison instead of 20 years.
See also Alex at Drug Law Blog