Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obama Administration Will Seek To Change Sentences

The Obama administration will be asking Congress to change Federal Sentencing Laws that create a disparity in jail sentences for dealing crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. We have previously written about this disparity in sentencing guidelines. Lawyers call this a "100 to 1" ratio for cocaine sentences. This means that a person convicted of selling five grams of crack cocaine faces the same prison sentence as someone convicted of selling 500 grams of powder cocaine. Many lawyers feel that this unfairly punishes black offenders since 82 percent of the defendants convicted in federal court of selling crack cocaine were black, while only nine percent were white. President Obama frequently mentioned this disparity in sentencing guidelines while he was campaigning for President. Assistant Attorney General, Lanny Breuer testified before a Senate Committee yesterday and called for this sentencing disparity to be cured by Congress but did not spell out any details. However Bauer did call on Congress to fix the current law, which was originally written in 1986 during the height of concern over the spread of crack cocaine. Bauer stated that since 1986, prosecutors have developed a "refined understanding" of the differences between crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

It is extremely rare for a politician to call for a reduction in prison sentences. Politicians are especially concerned about being seen as being soft on crime. In addition to this issue, the Obama administration is seeking to increase drug treatment and rehabilitation programs for inmates once they are released from prison.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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