Who Gets Sent to Federal Prisons?
The attorney general doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Sep 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 01 • By JOHN P. WALTERS
The attorney general also spoke as if federal judges do not already have and use discretion in sentencing drug offenders. As the Sentencing Commission report notes:
The federal sentencing process actually does adjust punishment to fit the offense. As noted, the system even makes allowances in offenses related to powder and crack cocaine. In fiscal year 2012, the commission explains:
Why do crack cocaine offenders—many with smaller quantities of illegal drugs and a majority of whom are African-American males—receive so little relief from mandatory minimum sentences? Isn’t this precisely what the attorney general cited as unjust in
the present system? Here the Sentencing Commission also thought an explanation was in order, and it reported: “Overall, crack cocaine offenders continue to have, on average, a more serious criminal history than any other category of drug offender.”
In a democracy, a conversation about the ways and means of justice should always be welcome. Too bad the attorney general’s misleading rhetoric and shoddy statistics have us off to a rocky start.
John P. Walters is chief operating officer of the Hudson Institute and former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George W. Bush.