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 7220 times)

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2007, 08:19:46 PM »
No.  It's silly.

1g of crack is punished more severely than 1g of cocaine, even though that 1g of crack contains a smaller quantity of illegal substance.

That's logic!

 ;)

+1

Say more.
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goaliechica

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2007, 08:25:10 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?


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BearlyLegal

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2007, 08:26:04 PM »
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?
Obviously, I am not stating the entire argument for the anti-crack legislation of the 1980's, and clearly, in a nation with a history like the USA's we can attribute racial dimensions to almost any social phenomenon including this one. But if you look at the political campaigns of black candidates of the era (good examples would be rainbow coalition candidates like Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins), they also ran on "get tough on crack" platforms. The fact that Jesse Jackson was for strict regulation of crack should say something about the zeitgeist of the day.

You have me on the dodgebullet tip. What makes it racist?

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2007, 08:38:57 PM »
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?
Obviously, I am not stating the entire argument for the anti-crack legislation of the 1980's, and clearly, in a nation with a history like the USA's we can attribute racial dimensions to almost any social phenomenon including this one. But if you look at the political campaigns of black candidates of the era (good examples would be rainbow coalition candidates like Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins), they also ran on "get tough on crack" platforms. The fact that Jesse Jackson was for strict regulation of crack should say something about the zeitgeist of the day.

You have me on the dodgebullet tip. What makes it racist?


Not racist! Racially biased! I'm just giving you a hard time though, don't mind me.


Wait, actually I do have a question:

Why should the punishment for simply participating in dodgebullet be different from dodgedart? I don't get it ???
YLS c/o 2009

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2007, 09:27:12 PM »
Edit: Some good points, but your perspective on this issue is pretty limited and your sophistication concerning the motives of the legislation is lacking.

Is there proof that legislators are/were more sophisticated than that?

(I think Bearly raised a valid point; just not one that answers the call of the poll.)

Hmmmm. BUT:

20 participants dead + 999 = 1019

5,000 participants dead = 5,000

Of course you would want to deter people from playing dodgebullet, but it isn't clear that a higher sentence is effective since it might simply deter kids from playing dodgebullet to playing dodgedart. It also isn't clear to me that you can create an effective sentence without detailing how many of the 100 playing dodgebullet vs. dodgedart will ultimately be detected and prosecuted? The reason I start with questions about optimal deterrence is because dodgebullet  doesn't seem to be as deadly a problem to the city as dodgedart already is.

What also is lacking is the perspective of enforcement. It isn't necessarily that the sentences were so much different (although that is part of the problem), but that police enforced the drugs laws selectively.  What happens in dodgedart vs. Dodgebullet? Do the police enforce the law similarly?
 
The reason why I said the question was racially biased on its face is that Bearly asked us the following:

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

Well hell, if I'm a Polish legislator and part of the data includes the race of the  likely participants in an activity...how do I consider it WITHOUT being biased?

YLS c/o 2009

BearlyLegal

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2007, 09:42:18 PM »
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?
Obviously, I am not stating the entire argument for the anti-crack legislation of the 1980's, and clearly, in a nation with a history like the USA's we can attribute racial dimensions to almost any social phenomenon including this one. But if you look at the political campaigns of black candidates of the era (good examples would be rainbow coalition candidates like Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins), they also ran on "get tough on crack" platforms. The fact that Jesse Jackson was for strict regulation of crack should say something about the zeitgeist of the day.

You have me on the dodgebullet tip. What makes it racist?


Not racist! Racially biased! I'm just giving you a hard time though, don't mind me.


Wait, actually I do have a question:

Why should the punishment for simply participating in dodgebullet be different from dodgedart? I don't get it ???
Are you being facetious?

A DUI is a good parallel example:
- A DUI perpetrator can be criminally punished for his behavior, even if it does not result in damages.
- Someone operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is liable for severe criminal punishment.
- Someone operating a tricycle while intoxicated is probably not liable for the same level of criminal punishment.

Why? The level of aggregate public harm caused by drunk drivers is significantly greater than the aggregate public harm caused by intoxicated tricycle riders.

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2007, 09:54:05 PM »
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?
Obviously, I am not stating the entire argument for the anti-crack legislation of the 1980's, and clearly, in a nation with a history like the USA's we can attribute racial dimensions to almost any social phenomenon including this one. But if you look at the political campaigns of black candidates of the era (good examples would be rainbow coalition candidates like Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins), they also ran on "get tough on crack" platforms. The fact that Jesse Jackson was for strict regulation of crack should say something about the zeitgeist of the day.

You have me on the dodgebullet tip. What makes it racist?


Not racist! Racially biased! I'm just giving you a hard time though, don't mind me.


Wait, actually I do have a question:

Why should the punishment for simply participating in dodgebullet be different from dodgedart? I don't get it ???
Are you being facetious?

A DUI is a good parallel example:
- A DUI perpetrator can be criminally punished for his behavior, even if it does not result in damages.
- Someone operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is liable for severe criminal punishment.
- Someone operating a tricycle while intoxicated is probably not liable for the same level of criminal punishment.

Why? The level of aggregate public harm caused by drunk drivers is significantly greater than the aggregate public harm caused by intoxicated tricycle riders.

This doesn't make any sense. Operating a motor vehicle while drunk is a crime. Operating a tricycle while intoxicated is not a crime. Dodgebullet and dodgedart both seem to be crimes (unless you're talking about nerf darts in which case, nerf is about to be screwed since 5000 people died while using their product).

A better comparison from your rationale is speeding vs. DUI. We can go there if you'd like.
YLS c/o 2009

BearlyLegal

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2007, 09:58:41 PM »
Edit: Some good points, but your perspective on this issue is pretty limited and your sophistication concerning the motives of the legislation is lacking.

Is there proof that legislators are/were more sophisticated than that?

(I think Bearly raised a valid point; just not one that answers the call of the poll.)

Hmmmm. BUT:

20 participants dead + 999 = 1019

5,000 participants dead = 5,000

Of course you would want to deter people from playing dodgebullet, but it isn't clear that a higher sentence is effective since it might simply deter kids from playing dodgebullet to playing dodgedart. It also isn't clear to me that you can create an effective sentence without detailing how many of the 100 playing dodgebullet vs. dodgedart will ultimately be detected and prosecuted? The reason I start with questions about optimal deterrence is because dodgebullet  doesn't seem to be as deadly a problem to the city as dodgedart already is.

What also is lacking is the perspective of enforcement. It isn't necessarily that the sentences were so much different (although that is part of the problem), but that police enforced the drugs laws selectively.  What happens in dodgedart vs. Dodgebullet? Do the police enforce the law similarly?
 
The reason why I said the question was racially biased on its face is that Bearly asked us the following:

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

Well hell, if I'm a Polish legislator and part of the data includes the race of the  likely participants in an activity...how do I consider it WITHOUT being biased?


These are good points, but consider the following:

Dodgedart results in more death to participants, but as I carefully stated in the hypo, it causes relatively little damage to innocent bystanders, and it does not have a corrupting influence on the surrounding society.

Dodgebullet, however, results in a significant amount of collateral damage, and has a significant corrupting influence on the surrounding society.

*(At this point the hypothetical analogy breaks down).

Th point is that little kids playing on the streets weren't getting capped in the head by cocaine dealers and users. Crack was a significant social problem, while cocaine was not.

As for your bias question, that raises a legitimate point. But, in a multiethnic and multiracial country, one must ask: - can *any* legislation be passed without some kind of inherent bias?

My point is that there are laws that are *specifically* discriminatory. The jim crow laws *specifically* targeted people of color. The 3/5 compromise was a specifically racist provision of the constitution. The Japanese internment act was a specifically racist act. The Chinese exclusionary act was a specifically racist law.

The Draconian drug laws were not inherently racist or biased in the same way. Yes, they had disparate impact, but I addressed the laws' practical outcome, and definitively referred to them as unjust in my OP.

BearlyLegal

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2007, 10:01:40 PM »
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?
Obviously, I am not stating the entire argument for the anti-crack legislation of the 1980's, and clearly, in a nation with a history like the USA's we can attribute racial dimensions to almost any social phenomenon including this one. But if you look at the political campaigns of black candidates of the era (good examples would be rainbow coalition candidates like Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins), they also ran on "get tough on crack" platforms. The fact that Jesse Jackson was for strict regulation of crack should say something about the zeitgeist of the day.

You have me on the dodgebullet tip. What makes it racist?


Not racist! Racially biased! I'm just giving you a hard time though, don't mind me.


Wait, actually I do have a question:

Why should the punishment for simply participating in dodgebullet be different from dodgedart? I don't get it ???
Are you being facetious?

A DUI is a good parallel example:
- A DUI perpetrator can be criminally punished for his behavior, even if it does not result in damages.
- Someone operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is liable for severe criminal punishment.
- Someone operating a tricycle while intoxicated is probably not liable for the same level of criminal punishment.

Why? The level of aggregate public harm caused by drunk drivers is significantly greater than the aggregate public harm caused by intoxicated tricycle riders.

This doesn't make any sense. Operating a motor vehicle while drunk is a crime. Operating a tricycle while intoxicated is not a crime. Dodgebullet and dodgedart both seem to be crimes (unless you're talking about nerf darts in which case, nerf is about to be screwed since 5000 people died while using their product).

A better comparison from your rationale is speeding vs. DUI. We can go there if you'd like.
  I'm trying to compare apples with apples. Consider that operating a Tricycle in public while intoxicated is most certainly an instance of public intoxication, which is most certainly a crime in my county.

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2007, 10:14:24 PM »
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?
Obviously, I am not stating the entire argument for the anti-crack legislation of the 1980's, and clearly, in a nation with a history like the USA's we can attribute racial dimensions to almost any social phenomenon including this one. But if you look at the political campaigns of black candidates of the era (good examples would be rainbow coalition candidates like Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins), they also ran on "get tough on crack" platforms. The fact that Jesse Jackson was for strict regulation of crack should say something about the zeitgeist of the day.

You have me on the dodgebullet tip. What makes it racist?


Not racist! Racially biased! I'm just giving you a hard time though, don't mind me.


Wait, actually I do have a question:

Why should the punishment for simply participating in dodgebullet be different from dodgedart? I don't get it ???
Are you being facetious?

A DUI is a good parallel example:
- A DUI perpetrator can be criminally punished for his behavior, even if it does not result in damages.
- Someone operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is liable for severe criminal punishment.
- Someone operating a tricycle while intoxicated is probably not liable for the same level of criminal punishment.

Why? The level of aggregate public harm caused by drunk drivers is significantly greater than the aggregate public harm caused by intoxicated tricycle riders.

This doesn't make any sense. Operating a motor vehicle while drunk is a crime. Operating a tricycle while intoxicated is not a crime. Dodgebullet and dodgedart both seem to be crimes (unless you're talking about nerf darts in which case, nerf is about to be screwed since 5000 people died while using their product).

A better comparison from your rationale is speeding vs. DUI. We can go there if you'd like.
  I'm trying to compare apples with apples. Consider that operating a Tricycle in public while intoxicated is most certainly an instance of public intoxication, which is most certainly a crime in my county.

Ok then your hypo still doesn't make sense because the consequences in the hypos are vastly different. In dodgedart v. dodgebullet, participants kill other people. The only person who reasonably is going to die while riding on a trike, is the person on a tricycle. I've never heard of two drunk toddlers on tricycles colliding to kill one another...

But EVEN if we agree that there are legitimate reasons for allowing different punishment because of the POTENTIAL for collateral damage, that doesn't eliminate the possibility that the punishment is not optimal and is racially motivated.

The problem with the courts, in my estimate, is that today we end the analysis on race at whether or not there was a legitimate purpose for an action. This is why I asked you to add more details to your hypo that would either distinguish it from crack cocaine or make it similar enough in nature that we could talk about racial bias.
YLS c/o 2009