Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
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Poll

Are the Federal Sentencing Guidelines re Crack & Cocaine racially biassed?

Yes
 13 (72.2%)
No
 2 (11.1%)
Don't Know
 3 (16.7%)

Total Members Voted: 18

Author Topic: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine  (Read 6831 times)

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2007, 07:25:23 PM »
"In 2004, 34.2 million Americans aged 12 and over reported lifetime use of cocaine, and 7.8 million reported using crack. About 5.6 million reported annual use of cocaine, and 1.3 million reported using crack. An estimated 2 million Americans reported current use of cocaine, 467,000 of whom reported using crack."

National Institute on Drug Abuse



I bring this up to point out that cocaine use is in fact a larger problem than is crack use, yet the sentencing guidelines are skewed to punish crack users & dealers more than cocaine users or dealers.

When Congress set out to draft these laws in the 1980's, they may very well have not intended to weigh the punishment for the same substance more heavily against minorities than against the people who closely resembled themselves, but then again...can we be certain of that?

Moreover, with the sentencing commission compiling mountains and mountains of undisputable data which shows that the primary target of these more severe crack prosecutions are black low-level drug runners on the corner as opposed to their wall street counterparts distributing cocaine at the same rates, then we have a disparate impact that triggers UNequal protection of the laws with respect to prosecuting the same illegal substance.

I have to believe that Congress was well aware of these racial divides associated with Crack and Cocaine when they made the sentencing guidelines in the 1980's. And if they didn't know, they most certainly know now, so what exactly are they waiting for?


The punishment for cocaine needs to be the same as crack.  Whether we raise cocaine to crack's level or lower crack to cocaine's level (not the preferred route in my opinion), at the end of the day they need to be = in punishment.
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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2007, 07:34:14 PM »
I have to believe that Congress was well aware of these racial divides associated with Crack and Cocaine when they made the sentencing guidelines in the 1980's. And if they didn't know, they most certainly know now, so what exactly are they waiting for?

Well the Sentencing Commission did just rework the rules.  Congress approved them (though negative affirmation).  But I agree that there shouldn't be a disparity at all:


The 100-to-1 ratio is keyed to the quantity of the cocaine involved in the crime. As Justice Ginsburg explained it in practical effect: “a dealer in crack cocaine was subject to the same sentence range as a dealer in 100 times more powder cocaine.”  On effect of this, Ginsburg noted, is “that a major supplier of powder cocaine may receive a shorter sentence than a low-level dealer who buys powder from the supplier but then converts it to crack.” The 100-to-1 Guidelines disparity has been somewhat relaxed as of Nov. 1 by the Sentencing Commission. The Commission is now pondering whether to make the reduced range retroactive.  The change, allowed by Congress, would generally result in crack sentences between two and five times longer than for equal amounts of powder, rather than 100 times longer. With Monday’s decision, even that reduction is not binding on federal judges.

The Court’s ruling, besides shoring up the Sentencing Commission’s criticism of crack punishment, also bolsters federal trial judges who in recent months have been experimenting with easing up on crack cocaine sentences. Whether this was a valid use of their authority, because it might and does result in below-Guidelines sentences, was the issue the Court decided in Kimbrough.

http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/uncategorized/court-eases-cocaine-sentencing/

Astro

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2007, 07:38:39 PM »
Court: Judges can reduce crack sentences



Alito dissented?  What a surprise.
J, if you didn't bring enough penis for everyone, you shouldn't have brought any penis at all. 

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2007, 07:42:42 PM »
Yeah, I recognize the disparate impact, which is why I I did say that they are *unjust* in execution. But just because something has potential disparate effect doesn't mean it is racist in intent.


So

f-ing

what?


What function is this dichotomy supposed to serve in this context?  Why would it matter whatsoever?
J, if you didn't bring enough penis for everyone, you shouldn't have brought any penis at all. 

BearlyLegal

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2007, 07:52:57 PM »
Hypothetical questions:

Let's say 100 poor Russian kids in the city of Kiev play a sport call "Dodgebullet" which is a game that's based on dodgeball, but loaded guns are used in lieu of soft rubber balls. The intended goal of the game is to provide entertainment and excitement to all participants; but the net result of the game is a 20% mortality rate among players, property damage in the millions of dollars, and hundreds of dead civilians. Further, the neighborhoods where "Dodgebullet" is played become too dangerous for inhabitants to safely navigate, and *everyone*, Russian inhabitants of the neighborhood included, are negatively impacted by the phenomenon.

In the same city, 100,000 Polish kids play a game called "Dodgedart". Dodgedart is a safer derivative of dodgebullet, and the mortality rate among players is limited to 5% of the players, there is no property damage, there are no dead innocent civilians, and noone is even inconvenienced by the game (except the players themselves).

Question 1) Assuming the given data about two dangerous activities, as a legislator, which activity would you punish more strictly?

Question 2) If a legislature decides to create stricter punishments for the game of "Dodgebullet", and more Russians serve harsher penalties than Polish kids, can we conclude from the given data that the punitive legislation is racially biased?

---

In summation, yes, the punishments for crack and cocaine are far from similar. The reason for that is that the societal impact that crack had on all communities was far more destructive than the impact that cocaine use had. Wall Streeters didn't have to go out on the street and do a driveby to protect their turf so that they could get their coke.

The saddest thing about calling this kind of legislation "racist" is that it was the very poorest minority communities that were victimized by the crack epidemic in the first place. The legislature did something to help poor people whose lives were being torn apart by 80's gang violence, and we look back in hindsight and attack those very same legislators for being "racist". That's ridiculous.

I do agree that the time of the crack emergency is long gone, and it's time to revisit these laws, and stop overreacting to a problem that is no longer as serious as it once was. But the congress, and individual states *are* doing just that.

There is plenty of racism going around in the world today. Why cry wolf on an issue that clearly had no racial intent, except for to clear minority neighborhoods of gang violence?

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2007, 08:06:46 PM »
Hypothetical questions:

Let's say 100 poor Russian kids in the city of Kiev play a sport call "Dodgebullet" which is a game that's based on dodgeball, but loaded guns are used in lieu of soft rubber balls. The intended goal of the game is to provide entertainment and excitement to all participants; but the net result of the game is a 20% mortality rate among players, property damage in the millions of dollars, and hundreds of dead civilians. Further, the neighborhoods where "Dodgebullet" is played become too dangerous for inhabitants to safely navigate, and *everyone*, Russian inhabitants of the neighborhood included, are negatively impacted by the phenomenon.

In the same city, 100,000 Polish kids play a game called "Dodgedart". Dodgedart is a safer derivative of dodgebullet, and the mortality rate among players is limited to 5% of the players, there is no property damage, there are no dead innocent civilians, and noone is even inconvenienced by the game (except the players themselves).

Question 1) Assuming the given data about two dangerous activities, as a legislator, which activity would you punish more strictly?

Question 2) If a legislature decides to create stricter punishments for the game of "Dodgebullet", and more Russians serve harsher penalties than Polish kids, can we conclude from the given data that the punitive legislation is racially biased?

---

In summation, yes, the punishments for crack and cocaine are far from similar. The reason for that is that the societal impact that crack had on all communities was far more destructive than the impact that cocaine use had. Wall Streeters didn't have to go out on the street and do a driveby to protect their turf so that they could get their coke.

The saddest thing about calling this kind of legislation "racist" is that it was the very poorest minority communities that were victimized by the crack epidemic in the first place. The legislature did something to help poor people whose lives were being torn apart by 80's gang violence, and we look back in hindsight and attack those very same legislators for being "racist". That's ridiculous.

I do agree that the time of the crack emergency is long gone, and it's time to revisit these laws, and stop overreacting to a problem that is no longer as serious as it once was. But the congress, and individual states *are* doing just that.

There is plenty of racism going around in the world today. Why cry wolf on an issue that clearly had no racial intent, except for to clear minority neighborhoods of gang violence?

lol.


Edit: Some good points, but your perspective on this issue is pretty limited and your sophistication concerning the motives of the legislation is lacking.

Oh and btw, the data given clearly shows that the punitive legislation for dodgebullet is racially biased. Can you figure out why?
YLS c/o 2009

BearlyLegal

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2007, 08:09:44 PM »
Hypothetical questions:

Let's say 100 poor Russian kids in the city of Kiev play a sport call "Dodgebullet" which is a game that's based on dodgeball, but loaded guns are used in lieu of soft rubber balls. The intended goal of the game is to provide entertainment and excitement to all participants; but the net result of the game is a 20% mortality rate among players, property damage in the millions of dollars, and hundreds of dead civilians. Further, the neighborhoods where "Dodgebullet" is played become too dangerous for inhabitants to safely navigate, and *everyone*, Russian inhabitants of the neighborhood included, are negatively impacted by the phenomenon.

In the same city, 100,000 Polish kids play a game called "Dodgedart". Dodgedart is a safer derivative of dodgebullet, and the mortality rate among players is limited to 5% of the players, there is no property damage, there are no dead innocent civilians, and noone is even inconvenienced by the game (except the players themselves).

Question 1) Assuming the given data about two dangerous activities, as a legislator, which activity would you punish more strictly?

Question 2) If a legislature decides to create stricter punishments for the game of "Dodgebullet", and more Russians serve harsher penalties than Polish kids, can we conclude from the given data that the punitive legislation is racially biased?

---

In summation, yes, the punishments for crack and cocaine are far from similar. The reason for that is that the societal impact that crack had on all communities was far more destructive than the impact that cocaine use had. Wall Streeters didn't have to go out on the street and do a driveby to protect their turf so that they could get their coke.

The saddest thing about calling this kind of legislation "racist" is that it was the very poorest minority communities that were victimized by the crack epidemic in the first place. The legislature did something to help poor people whose lives were being torn apart by 80's gang violence, and we look back in hindsight and attack those very same legislators for being "racist". That's ridiculous.

I do agree that the time of the crack emergency is long gone, and it's time to revisit these laws, and stop overreacting to a problem that is no longer as serious as it once was. But the congress, and individual states *are* doing just that.

There is plenty of racism going around in the world today. Why cry wolf on an issue that clearly had no racial intent, except for to clear minority neighborhoods of gang violence?

lol.
My apologies for taking a non politically correct position on a controversial issue. Clearly, I must be a giant racist.  ::)

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2007, 08:12:21 PM »
Hypothetical questions:

Let's say 100 poor Russian kids in the city of Kiev play a sport call "Dodgebullet" which is a game that's based on dodgeball, but loaded guns are used in lieu of soft rubber balls. The intended goal of the game is to provide entertainment and excitement to all participants; but the net result of the game is a 20% mortality rate among players, property damage in the millions of dollars, and hundreds of dead civilians. Further, the neighborhoods where "Dodgebullet" is played become too dangerous for inhabitants to safely navigate, and *everyone*, Russian inhabitants of the neighborhood included, are negatively impacted by the phenomenon.

In the same city, 100,000 Polish kids play a game called "Dodgedart". Dodgedart is a safer derivative of dodgebullet, and the mortality rate among players is limited to 5% of the players, there is no property damage, there are no dead innocent civilians, and noone is even inconvenienced by the game (except the players themselves).

Question 1) Assuming the given data about two dangerous activities, as a legislator, which activity would you punish more strictly?

Question 2) If a legislature decides to create stricter punishments for the game of "Dodgebullet", and more Russians serve harsher penalties than Polish kids, can we conclude from the given data that the punitive legislation is racially biased?

---

In summation, yes, the punishments for crack and cocaine are far from similar. The reason for that is that the societal impact that crack had on all communities was far more destructive than the impact that cocaine use had. Wall Streeters didn't have to go out on the street and do a driveby to protect their turf so that they could get their coke.

The saddest thing about calling this kind of legislation "racist" is that it was the very poorest minority communities that were victimized by the crack epidemic in the first place. The legislature did something to help poor people whose lives were being torn apart by 80's gang violence, and we look back in hindsight and attack those very same legislators for being "racist". That's ridiculous.

I do agree that the time of the crack emergency is long gone, and it's time to revisit these laws, and stop overreacting to a problem that is no longer as serious as it once was. But the congress, and individual states *are* doing just that.

There is plenty of racism going around in the world today. Why cry wolf on an issue that clearly had no racial intent, except for to clear minority neighborhoods of gang violence?

lol.
My apologies for taking a non politically correct position on a controversial issue. Clearly, I must be a giant racist.  ::)

Did I call you a racist? Who's crying wolf now?
YLS c/o 2009

BearlyLegal

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2007, 08:13:34 PM »
I'm sorry. You and I have quarreled before and I am being defensive. My bad.

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2007, 08:15:56 PM »
I'm sorry. You and I have quarreled before and I am being defensive. My bad.

we've never quarreled before. We only had a minor disagreement about RuskieGirl. No worries.
YLS c/o 2009