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Wed Jul 24, 2013, 10:15 PM

Holder, Looks To Overturn Ruling That Would Apply Fair Sentencing Act Retroactively

Eric Holder, Looks To Overturn New Ruling That Would Apply Fair Sentencing Act Retroactively

...

This was a moment almost unique in history: when a supposedly free society admitted that many of its citizens remain in prison for no good reason.

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Strangely, the Obama administration initially urged in federal courts across the country that the old discriminatory penalties should still be applied to those arrested but not yet sentenced at the time the law was passed. However, the administration reversed course after significant criticism, and the US supreme court held last year that the new, more "fair" sentences must be applied to those not yet sentenced.

But that case did not decide the fate of any of the thousands of people already sitting in prison because of what all agree is an unfair law. For those people – sentenced, in some cases, just days or weeks before the Fair Sentencing Act was signed – our society's acknowledgment that they remain in prison for no good reason may not help them at all – because the government did not care to reduce their penalties retroactively when it declared them unjust.

For several years, federal judges have done nothing to remedy this injustice; one famously concluded that the prisoners sentenced under the old law had simply "lost on a temporal roll of the cosmic dice". So, there are American citizens serving tens of thousands of years in prison because, according to all three branches of government, it's just their tough luck?

Apparently so, until two months ago. On 17 May 2013, the US court of appeals for the sixth circuit held that the new, "fair" sentences must be applied to all those previously sentenced under laws that everyone acknowledges were discriminatory. The two-judge majority opinion wrote forcefully (pdf) and with unusual candor about the history of unequal treatment under the old laws. The judges ordered that those sentenced under those laws were entitled to ask federal judges to reduce their sentences.

The Justice Department is now seeking to overturn that decision – which will be devastating news to many thousands like my original crack cocaine client. The Obama administration would surely condemn an oppressive foreign dictator's regime for the singular cruelty of declaring to its population that thousands of its citizens must continue to sit in prison for no good reason. The fact that few have even heard of the stunning position taken by President Obama is a sad reflection on how incurious mainstream US public opinion is about what underpins our mass incarceration society.

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/trial-obama-admins-greatest-shame?page=0%2C1

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Reply Holder, Looks To Overturn Ruling That Would Apply Fair Sentencing Act Retroactively (Original post)
Catherina Jul 2013 OP
PDJane Jul 2013 #1
dballance Jul 2013 #4
PDJane Jul 2013 #5
dballance Jul 2013 #7
PDJane Jul 2013 #9
rhett o rick Jul 2013 #6
ProSense Jul 2013 #2
Comrade Grumpy Jul 2013 #3
joshcryer Jul 2013 #13
joshcryer Jul 2013 #12
forestpath Jul 2013 #8
liberal_at_heart Jul 2013 #10
RainDog Jul 2013 #11
woo me with science Jul 2013 #14
woo me with science Aug 2013 #15

Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Jul 24, 2013, 10:21 PM

1. It will be a nightmare to enforce, which is probably his problem.

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Response to PDJane (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 24, 2013, 10:39 PM

4. How So?

 

How will it be a nightmare to select thousands of people who are nonviolent offenders and reduce their sentences? Some who were first-time offenders?


The only nightmare is the one for the private prison corporations.

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Response to dballance (Reply #4)

Wed Jul 24, 2013, 10:43 PM

5. That's part of the problem. Finding them is another problem.

Getting them out if and keeping them out is another story........and the fact is that it's going to take effort.

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Response to PDJane (Reply #5)

Wed Jul 24, 2013, 11:34 PM

7. You are so wrong.

 

"Getting them out if [sic] and keeping them out is another story........and the fact is that it's going to take effort."

Are you sure you're on the right discussion site?

Selecting who to "get out" is a really easy task due to the advanced computer systems these days. If the government computers don't make this easy then I assure you the private prison company computers have all the information needed and should be required to be turn it over to the local, state and federal authorities as needed.

"Keeping them out?" Seriously? I'm not talking about letting loose hard-core repeat offenders. I'm talking about letting out those people who made a mistake or two and got caught. Yet our draconian "War on Drugs" laws and mandatory sentencing laws passed in the wake of the "War on Drugs" swept up otherwise innocent people who experimented with drugs, maybe even several times and too often, and were convicted and then sentenced without any regard to their overall situation. All because of mandatory sentencing and three strikes laws. The judges were forbidden from "judging" and taking into account the facts before their court and making "judicial" decisions. All because politicians found it expedient in their campaigns for election and re-election to take a "hard stance" on drugs.

The sad thing I think is that "keeping them out" would have been an easy effort if we hadn't subjected them to mandatory sentencing for drug crimes and thrown them into incarceration where they had to learn survival skills that will not serve them well outside of a prison. Yep, if we had actually tried to treat people as humans who make errors and need some work rather than the Puritan punishment for the most minor of transgressions we might have saved thousands of people.

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Response to dballance (Reply #7)

Thu Jul 25, 2013, 12:31 AM

9. I am well aware of the fact that these aren't hard core criminals.

But keeping pot offenders out of jail will be a matter of changing laws; the police aren't going to change their attitudes easily, and the policies that put them there will put them back there, unless something changes and quickly. It's a very good policy, but the knuckle-draggers will foot drag. That means the people who run private jails and state and local jails. They will tell you that they know the people and should be given leeway.

Private and government jails are run as slave labour in a lot of places and ways. It's not an ideal system, but fixing it from the bottom is what will have to happen and that may take time.

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Response to PDJane (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 24, 2013, 11:33 PM

6. I think you mean implement and not enforce. This pertains to those already in prison.

 

And being hard shouldnt be an excuse not to do what's right.

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Jul 24, 2013, 10:34 PM

2. It was Holder

who urged retroactivity.

Holder Urges Retroactivity of Fair Sentencing Act
http://prospect.org/article/holder-urges-retroactivity-fair-sentencing-act

Retroactive Reductions Sought in Crack Penalties
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/us/02cocaine.html

Federal Appeals Court: Drug Sentencing Disparity Is Intentional Racial ‘Subjucation’
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022863384

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Response to ProSense (Reply #2)

Wed Jul 24, 2013, 10:36 PM

3. Well, then somebody ought to tell the Justice Department.

 

This is like just reflexive nastiness.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #3)

Thu Jul 25, 2013, 02:44 AM

13. It makes no sense.

Delay tactic to implementation? Trying to make sure it "sticks"? (SCOTUS already ruled, that latter option makes no sense.)

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Response to ProSense (Reply #2)

Thu Jul 25, 2013, 02:41 AM

12. What the fuck?

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Wed Jul 24, 2013, 11:40 PM

8. I hope the court tells him to fuck himself.

 

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Thu Jul 25, 2013, 02:34 AM

10. reversed course after criticism from whom? We can't seem to put enough pressure on them to stop

prosecuting medical marijuana patients but someone can put pressure on them to reverse a decision that would apply fair sentencing retroactively? Just who has influence and control on our supposedly unbiased Justice Department?

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Thu Jul 25, 2013, 02:38 AM

11. land of the free... oh, wait. n/t

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Thu Jul 25, 2013, 05:43 AM

14. K&R

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Response to Catherina (Original post)

Fri Aug 9, 2013, 10:14 AM

15. kick

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