High Time

Thousands of Crack Felons Are Getting Out of Jail Early—
and That’s a Good Thing

Comments

1
welcome home, your families will be happy to see you free at last!
2
No major metropolitan areas, huh? I'll be sure to let the over 2,500,000 people living in Baltimore know.
3
The point? Corporate profit. When prisons are privatized, corporations have an incentive to increasingly push for more incarceration on the tax payer dime, even when numerous studies show incarceration to be the most costly and ineffective method of addressing drug use.
4
The point? Corporate profits; when prisons are privatized, the prison lobby has effectively increased laws to incarcerate non-violent drug users over the past several decades, all on the tax payer dole. This, despite the fact incarceration is known through numerous studies to be the least effective, most expensive method of treatment for users and for society. The drug war has failed by social standards, but it's been remarkably profitable for private prison companies. Here we have the collusion of corporate greed, institutional racism, and politicians of both parties who'd rather pander to 'tough on crime' rhetoric for short term electoral gains, than actually effectively solve problems.
5
@ 2. Baltimore is not in eastern Virginia.
6
@5 Sorry, I thought the article meant the Fourth Circuit as a whole. I'll read more carefully next time.
7

Well, this should make life in AMerica's ghettos more fun!
8
I'm glad that the federal sentencing guidelines are changing. Washington State doesn't make a distinction between crack and powder cocaine in its sentencing guidelines, because there isn't a meaningful difference.

Brendan, I know that it's common for a journalist to pick a sympathetic "poster child" for their story, but I have to wonder whether there's something you're leaving out about Lee (not that it changes my opinion that this is a good move). Based on what you've described about his arrest, it would be a simple possession charge under state law. The feds don't usually take such small-time drug charges like his unless there's a good reason.
9
The question with changes like this is always, "Why did it take so long?"
10
@3/4, Don't be so quick to turn a smaller aggravating factor into a vast conspiracy. The reason these laws were passed in the first place was as a response to the hysteria that came out of a very real increase in crime as a result of the crack "epidemic". That shit was real. Bad neighborhoods went really really bad and a lot of people suffered for it. The government response was almost as bad though, since they took out the only tool they thought they had...enforcement. If they had treated it as a real epidemic and sought to treat the people involved and prevent the spread through a broader, smarter approach, then we'd all be better off but you have to remember that this was the Reagan/Bush "lift yourself up by your bootsraps" era.
11
@9, Why did it take so long? Who lobbies on behalf of the imprisoned? Who lobbies for the sake of the low level "criminal"? There aren't too many politicians who are going to take that gamble and come out as "soft on crime". Look at what happens when the bible thumping officials play to their base and release a prisoner who found Jesus...the inevitable headline of the early released born again ex con raping/murdering and taking down that politician's career with them.
As soon as one of these early released crack convicts fucks up, and you know one of them will, you'll see the same get tough rhetoric again. Could you imagine any politician standing up to a charge of releasing a wave of crackheads under the crack epidemic hysteria? You have to realize too that the war on drug (users) is still very popular in most of this country.
12
So now we'll have to suffer through more stories of Goldy's car being burglarized.
13
Of course, free as they may be, none of them have the right to vote out the people that put them in jail in the first place any longer, it might be noted. (Which I'm sure makes many in the South "as happy as a boll weevil in cotton" too.)

Newly freed from an unjust imprisonment, poor, and disenfranchised: that's an equation that always plays out well socio-politically, ain't it?

14
@4, cap_hill_chica, is, of course, correct, with one small addition.

The drug war is really about owning the entire market: those behind the drugs, the drug money laundering, and the privatized prisons (and donations and lobbying to alter laws to their benefit) not coincidentally happen to be the same select group of banksters and their cronies.

Just look closely at the financiers behind Corrections Corporation of America, Prison Realty, etc., etc.

Then take a look at the principal banksters which supported the passage of NAFTA, which almost immediately led to the privatization of 90% of Mexican banks by North American (and several Euro) banksters.

This is called absolute market control.

(This was in direct response to the southward movement of drug money laundering funds to Mexican banks with the accidental passage [they snuck it through] of the lowering of bank reporting amounts back in the '80s.)

See Ravi Baktra's Greenspan's Fraud on banks who financed the passage of NAFTA.

(Also, please note that David Rockefeller originally established and financed the Council on Americas, the original lobby for passage of NAFTA.)
15
You know, these numbers become a lot more effective you if realize that the amount of powder cocaine you're talking about is HALF A KILO. That's 1.1 POUNDS. That's a lot of coke. I mean, I had been aware of the fucked up discrepancy for a long time, but had never translated those numbers into something I could understand. 5000g is 11 fucking pounds. Jesus.
16
@2 The population of Baltimore is about 640,000. I don't think we've seen 2.5 mil since all the steel mills were running 3 shifts a day after the second World War.
18
Guidelines are used in sentencing? prior convictions and violence and impact on society are "sup-posed" to be considered when passing judgment? at least in the Union States of America? (still not sure about them Rebel States)

These same Recordings will decide who is released first and what kind of probation or parole will be demanded?

Getting released from prison can be a giant rat trap baited with the finest of French cheese and its very much like that Chinese pinball thingy where the ball bounces off a million tiny nails hammered into a hard wood board.

most of the time getting out early is not as desireable as a clean and free release.
19
At least 5,000 people, many of whom have had their lives pointlessly destroyed by prison life as retribution for a few grams of a drug, will now or soon, face life on the outside in an economic environment in which skilled tradesmen with no criminal records and young professionals with MBA degrees can't get enough work to pay the bills.

Yes, that should work just fine. Unfortunately, the economic system is still rigged against most of the working class, and is especially rigged against anyone who needs to start over for one reason or another.
20
@18 Pachinko, you're thinking of Pachinko. And it's Japanese.
21
Anyone who was an adult in the 80's knows that the arrival of crack cocaine devastated inner city neighborhoods in an unprecented way. The calls to crack down (no pun intended) on crack users and dealers came from all corners including black legislators, black law enforcement officials and black neighborhood activists. To look back and call the sentencing enhancements racist is just not supported by reality. If the concern is about sentencing differences for various drugs, then why not protest those in place for methamphetamine - the same as those that were in place for crack cocaine but for which whites are predominantly prosecuted.
22
Anyone who was an adult in the 80's knows that the arrival of crack cocaine devastated inner city neighborhoods in an unprecented way. The calls to crack down (no pun intended) on crack users and dealers came from all corners including black legislators, black law enforcement officials and black neighborhood activists. To look back and call the sentencing enhancements racist is just not supported by reality. If the concern is about sentencing differences for various drugs, then why not protest those in place for methamphetamine - the same as those that were in place for crack cocaine but for which whites are predominantly prosecuted.
I also agree that the background on Lee is leaving out some important aspects of the case. There is no way that an Assistant U.S. Attorney would take that case as described for prosecution in Federal court. Perhaps if he was a felon in possession of a firearm at the time of the crack purchase - but even then the case would have to be pushed hard to get prosecuted by the feds.