Early prison release possible for 256 crack dealers

By chillinwill · Nov 16, 2008 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    The federal probation office has determined that 256 crack-cocaine dealers in the Southern District of Ohio are probably eligible for early release from prison under a change in federal sentencing guidelines.

    The court district covers the southern half of Ohio, including Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.

    "That number is pretty close to being reliable. … We looked at well over 3,000 cases," said Pat Crowley, chief U.S. probation officer for the district.

    The federal public defender's office had estimated that 439 inmates might be eligible.

    Federal prosecutors plan to object to early release in about 80 cases but agree with the probation office's assessment of the others, said William Hunt, first assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district.

    Federal judges ultimately will rule on whether a prisoner is released; in some cases, they already have.

    The U.S. Sentencing Commission enacted retroactive sentencing guidelines in 2007 after years of outcries about a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between penalties for crack and powder cocaine.

    Before the changes, possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine could merit the same 20-year federal prison sentence given for 500 grams of powder cocaine.

    The guideline changes reduced the disparity and put punishment on a sliding scale based on a criminal's history and the amount of drugs involved, Hunt said.

    The three agencies -- probation, public defender and prosecutor -- together reviewed 464 inmate files; in 80 percent of the cases, they agreed on whether an inmate was eligible and, if so, for how much of a reduction, Crowley said.

    That bodes well for the inmates when they go before judges, said Steven Nolder, federal public defender for the southern district.

    The average sentence reduction is about 28 months, "which is right on target with the national average," Nolder said.

    Hunt said the U.S. Department of Justice was not in favor of the guideline changes. But now that they are in place, he said, the department is objecting to early release for only the worst offenders.

    "I think there is a public perception that the federal government has gone and charged users … and they were treated unfairly," he said. "In our district, we did not prosecute users. We prosecuted people who were making a living off crack cocaine."

    By Jodi Andes
    Sunday, November 16, 2008 3:46 AM

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  1. PsychoActivist
    Wow. I can't say I agree with this. If it was weed I would agree. But crack is just way to addictive and makes people do really shitty things to get more. I honestly believe that if they do let 256 crack dealers go, at least 150 of them would most likely continue to sell crack. It takes much effort to get out of a game like that. Most people in order to quit selling/using drugs would have to pretty much cut off all their old contacts and that is very hard for people to do. Then all it takes is one of their friends to be like "Hey man you think you can score me some? Just this once?" And then it happens and then the guy tells his friends and before you know it back to square one. On top of that if they have been in prison for a while, they are not gonna have any money or anything when they get out so hey, whats a good way to make some fast cash.

    Oh well, I guess you can't keep people in prison forever just for selling crack. It just really is the one drug that I do consider to "pollute" our streets. Way to much crime associated with it. hopefully some of these guys have spent their time in prison achieving a new outlook on life. Maybe if they do get out and feel the need to sell something they can just go with some herb but there is definitely not as much money to be made in weed business.
  2. doggy_hat
    Like Pscyhoactivist, I too would put crack dealers at the bottom of my list of type of dealers I want to see back on the streets, but this isn't about hard drugs vs soft, it's about selling coke that's smoked instead of snorted.

    The penalties for crack are far worse than for selling coke, and this is about bridging the gap between the two. And although I think that crack is a worse than coke, the gap is just way to large. Street level crack dealers can easily end up with a sentence that's as worse as someone that's smuggling a kilo, and that's not right.
  3. dyingtomorrow

    Lots of people want crack, and we need people to sell it. Free market society.
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