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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Punishment for Ecstasy-related crimes not scientifically justified

    A federal judge in New York yesterday (Friday) rejected the federal sentencing guideline for Ecstasy, finding it to be based on “selective and incomplete” evidence and ruling that it punishes Ecstasy-related crimes far more harshly than is scientifically justified.

    The decision comes in the case of Sean McCarthy, who previously pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to possess and distribute Ecstasy.

    In sentencing McCarthy to 26 months in federal prison as opposed to the 63 to 78 months recommended under the flawed guidelines established in 2001 by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Pauley issued the first federal court opinion rejecting the federal sentencing guideline for Ecstasy.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, during a two-day hearing in December, presented U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III with scientific evidence from expert witnesses demonstrating that the federal sentencing guideline for Ecstasy is flawed.

    “We commend Judge Pauley for recognizing that the 10-year-old sentencing guideline for Ecstasy is based on flawed assumptions and repudiated science,” said Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project. “Unnecessarily punitive drug sentencing guidelines play a major role in exacerbating our nation’s costly problem of overincarceration, and we urge the U.S. Sentencing Commission to undertake a thorough and scientifically grounded re-evaluation of all drug guidelines.”

    In his written opinion, issued May 19 in anticipation of today’s sentencing, Pauley found that the Ecstasy guideline established in 2001 would “give rise to a sentence that is greater than necessary to serve the objectives of sentencing.”

    July 16, 2011



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