Larry Frankel has a good article in the Houston Chronicle: Stop sentence entrapment in drug case prosecutions
Many Americans have learned about the unjust disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences but many do not know that this disparity allows law enforcement to exploit that difference in ways that compound the injustice. […]
He described how he had been contacted by an undercover police officer who asked him to help her get drugs. On more than one occasion the officer asked Aikens to cook powder cocaine into crack. Thanks to the deliberate acts of the undercover agent, Aikens was convicted of possessing crack cocaine rather than powder cocaine and received a much longer prison sentence. The undercover office testified that she knew that crack carried a harsher penalty and that was the very reason why she asked Aikens to turn the powder cocaine into crack.
This is a really ugly practice — one more reason to eliminate the disparity, but also a sad sign of the times. Policing and prosecuting has often become more about numbers — how many can you arrest, how many years can you get, how many charges can you pile on — than about justice.
A similar situation occurred in Florida. There the government had arranged for a sting purchase of crack cocaine even though the defendant in the case had no prior history of selling crack. As the trial court noted, the government controlled both the offense level and the applicable mandatory minimum sentence through its undercover purchasing decisions.
At the hearing where Aikens testified, members of Congress also learned about a case from Los Angeles where a female informant, acting at the government’s direction, specifically sought to buy crack on two occasions from a defendant. When the defendant showed up with powder cocaine, the informant insisted that the defendant cook the powder into crack. Because the defendant complied with the informant’s demand he was subjected to a harsher mandatory sentence.
There are so many reasons to end the drug war, that this may seem a small one, yet it makes me shudder at the complete loss of judicial integrity.
I hear those who say that drug use is immoral and so is breaking the law, yet how can they possibly turn around and justify the morality of entrapment? WWJD?