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Federal prison system releasing inmates


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#1 Mac

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 06:24 PM

An Article on Yahoo.con said the Federal prison system was releasing thousands of inmates from Federal prison that were incarcerated for CRACK. Since the penalties for a crack offense has been lessened, they feel they can let those inmates inprisoned for crack offenses out. Is there no end to this crazy crap?
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#2 kurt555gs

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 06:58 PM

An Article on Yahoo.con said the Federal prison system was releasing thousands of inmates from Federal prison that were incarcerated for CRACK. Since the penalties for a crack offense has been lessened, they feel they can let those inmates inprisoned for crack offenses out. Is there no end to this crazy crap?


Good!
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#3 richp

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 06:59 PM

Hi,

It's true that starting almost immediately, the BOP will begin releasing inmates whose sentences for possession of crack were deemed disporportionate under a law in effect at the time of sentencing. This came about because decades ago, Congress created enhanced penalties for crack over those for powder cocaine. That is, if you were found in posession of a kilo of rock cocaine you got a much longer term than if you had a kilo of powder cocaine.

From the beginning, arguments against this disparity centered on the racial angle -- crack was primarily an inner city drug and powder cocaine tended to be a drug of choice for non-minorities. In 2010, Congress passed a new law equalizing penalties for the two types of cocaine, and Obama signed it into law. More recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided these provisions should be applied retroactively, and the courts have been acting accordingly. That's why these inmates are being released early. And the BOP estimates that as many as 12,000 might eventually be released, cutting an average of three years from their sentences.

FWIW.

Rich Phillips

#4 GarandFan

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 09:18 PM

An Article on Yahoo.con said the Federal prison system was releasing thousands of inmates from Federal prison that were incarcerated for CRACK. Since the penalties for a crack offense has been lessened, they feel they can let those inmates inprisoned for crack offenses out. Is there no end to this crazy crap?


Good to hear this.

Malum prohibitum. They're addicts. Nothing to be gained by also making them criminals.
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#5 Howard Roark

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 11:33 PM

Hi,

It's true that starting almost immediately, the BOP will begin releasing inmates whose sentences for possession of crack were deemed disporportionate under a law in effect at the time of sentencing. This came about because decades ago, Congress created enhanced penalties for crack over those for powder cocaine. That is, if you were found in posession of a kilo of rock cocaine you got a much longer term than if you had a kilo of powder cocaine.

From the beginning, arguments against this disparity centered on the racial angle -- crack was primarily an inner city drug and powder cocaine tended to be a drug of choice for non-minorities. In 2010, Congress passed a new law equalizing penalties for the two types of cocaine, and Obama signed it into law. More recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided these provisions should be applied retroactively, and the courts have been acting accordingly. That's why these inmates are being released early. And the BOP estimates that as many as 12,000 might eventually be released, cutting an average of three years from their sentences.

FWIW.

Rich Phillips


Thanks Rich. And you're very knowledge-able in this area, even though you did not say so. Oh, nice to meet you those months ago.

So what's your view? I think these drug laws are stupid. As far as crack compared to powder forms of cocain, there is no difference.

All the best !
Howard Roark
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#6 richp

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 05:52 AM

Hi Howard,

Yes, it was good to meet you; hope that .22 is still working well for you.

I've been retired for a long time, but when I saw this I had a couple of thoughts. Short version -- rhere were logical arguments for the differential that this new law changes. But when I balance it all out, I personally feel equalization of the penalties was long overdue. Here are a few of the things that went into my mental mix.

1) The latest cost figure for the BOP is about $26,000 per year per inmate. If you multiply that by 12,000 (the number of such cases estimated in Federal custody) and then times the 25 years or so that the law has been in effect, you get something in the neighborhood of 8 billion dollars that those inmates cost us as taxpayers. We'll never know if that bought us 8 billion dollars worth of public safety...

2) It's absolutely true that some of these inmates were addicts, but many were mid-level distribution types, who may or may not have been selling to support a habit.

3) It's equally true that many of them were lower level schmucks (and quite often wives or girlfriends pressured by their man to be involved). They couldn't snitch off anyone else in the organization,which under the law might have gotten them either off the hook totally or a greatly reduced sentence, and so they had to do the time.

4) The Federal Sentencing Commission's guidelines never gave judges latitude to shorten sentences in such cases -- a lot of pretty (criminally) unsophisticated people went to prison as a result -- for an extra long time. They'll come out far more educated in crime, to families that were disrupted, and having been out of the job market for a long time.

5) The logic was that crack was more dangeous because inner city distribution revolved around more violence than the kind of activity surrounding powder. But they are chemically identical, and distribution methods (involving violence and corruption) farther back in the supply chain -- before the powder was cooked into crystals -- was exactly the same.

FWIW.

Rich Phillips

#7 bob

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 05:55 AM

I think it is silly to lock up people for using drugs. I seriously doubt any of these guys are mere users. I would bet they are all dealers.

The disparity in penaltys between the various forms of the drug is mostly a political matter and I am happy to let the politicians deal with it.
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#8 Jeff Johnson

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 07:33 AM

My problem with the users is not that they self-destruct by thier abuse, but that they sometimes pull children and family down the sewer with them, and they often steal, mug, carjack, etc to support thier habit.
If they are offered rehab and fail multiple times and continue to prey on society to support thier habit, then I think they should be incarcerated and offered all the free drugs they want. JMO but I think society would be better off and they get where they're going just the same.

#9 richp

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 08:42 AM

Hi,

Everyone thinking about this should be clear on at least one thing. Nobody is serving time these days in Federal prison simply because they are a drug user. They had to be doing something -- even tangentially -- that was involved with distributing fairly large quantities of drugs.

I'll give you an example of how things in the Federal system work. U.S. Attorneys offices establish what I'll call here prosecution policies, which set out the guidelines for what kind of cases they pursue. It's a matter of how you distribute scarce prosecutorial resources, and frankly I don't know what the quantity threshold is these days. But back in the 90's, if you were not dealing kilo quantities -- for instance IIRC in the Southern District of Florida it used to be around 20-25 kilos, or about 50 pounds of cocaine -- the US Attorney would refuse to take the case and lay it off for state prosecution. So small cases didn't wind up in Federal prisons.

Now the other side of the coin to examine is the nature of participation. There were indeed a lot of users who got sent up for participating in major drug networks of the size I mentioned above. But many of them were not "managerial" participants -- they were peripheral or low level players in a drug conspiracy, who were caught up in the mandatory sentencing scheme of the Federal sentencing guidelines. And judges could not avoid using the guidelines, even in cases where the heavy punishment didn't really seem to fit the piece of the crime that a given offender fulfilled.

Don't interpret anything I'm writing here as supporting cocaine use or distribution, or leniency for those involved in such activity. But I am in favor of reasonableness and equity in our criminal justice system. Locking up simple drug couriers or girlfriends who were just "holding", for 15-20 years doesn't make sense to me in terms of punishment, deterrence, or cost the the taxpayers.

FWIW.

Rich Phillips

Edited by richp, 02 November 2011 - 08:47 AM.


#10 ChiShooter

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 08:51 AM

An Article on Yahoo.con said the Federal prison system was releasing thousands of inmates from Federal prison that were incarcerated for CRACK. Since the penalties for a crack offense has been lessened, they feel they can let those inmates inprisoned for crack offenses out.

A rare example of common sense in the govt.

#11 belercous

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 12:00 AM

I don't recognize any drug law as valid. The user is the "victim" but is a willing victim. The mere fact that someone used/sold drugs ought not be a crimminal offense. That said, when someone steals/embezzles to support a drug habit, they ought to be punished to a greater extent than a non-user or gambler/other vice in need of support. Likewise with someone who commits domestic abuse, child neglect or disorderly conduct. (And likely other crimes I can't name off the top of my head now.)

Drug dealers only provide a product not available on the open market. They don't force anyone to buy from them, and if nobody did, they'd soon find another profession. There's a sizeable portion of society who creates a demand for illegal drugs, so why should drug users who are otherwise law-abiding be considered crimminals for a purely political (arbitrary) reason? More people abuse alcohol than illegal drugs, yet they're not crimminals. Why? Because we declared certain substances to be illegal for arbitrary (politically popular) reasons.

The vast majority of drug users are responsible enough in their drug use that they function just fine & don't become a burden on society. The same is true with alcohol. Or prescription drugs. By pushing illicit drugs into the black-market (which is the free-market) we've made it such that a 17 yr. old can more easily obtain Heroin or cocaine than beer.

IMDAO, I'd have to say our drug laws not only aren't working, but are detrimental to otherwise upstanding members of society. Also, our drug laws cost taxpayers money & clog the prisons with otherwise productive citizens. (I've known, & still do know, drug dealers whose only crime is selling a product in demand. Same with drug users.)

#12 Lou

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 05:54 AM

Slightly off topic but here is one of the consequences of not keeping criminals in jail. This guy murdered a 14 YO girl this week in Indian Head Park which is near LaGrange. He stabbed her multiple times in her own home when she came home from school.
This guy has spent 17 of the last 20 years in jail and was out on parole when he slaughtered this young girl. He should NEVER have been out of jail.

Belercous, please note how many of his arrests are for drug violation.

Thank you Gov. Quinn for eliminating the death penalty. Please explain your reasoning to her parents.



___________________________________________




John L. Wilson spent 17 of the last 20 years in prison, and had been on parole for just 11-1/2 months before his Wednesday arrest in the stabbing death of Kelli O’Laughlin, according to court and Illinois Department of Corrections records.


1991: In January, police spot Wilson dealing drugs and chase him, finding a total of 5 grams of heroin in several bags on him. Then in February, police who stop Wilson on Chicago’s South Side for traffic offenses discover the car he’s driving is stolen. They arrest him after a brief chase. He’s sentenced in August to a total of five years in prison.


1993: Wilson paroles out of prison in February. In June, he’s found at his home with eight packets of cocaine. While out on bond in November, he forces his way into the driver’s side of a car by pointing a gun at the driver’s head on Chicago’s South Side. He’s spotted a few hours later by police and crashes the car. While running from police, he drops his coat with the gun in it.


1994: In May he’s sentenced to a total of eight years for both the drug and carjacking cases. He’s sent to prison in June.


2001: While in prison in Downstate Pontiac, Wilson is charged and sentenced for aggravated battery of a prison guard. He paroles out in May but is sent back to prison July 19 for an apparent parole violation, though corrections officials couldn’t say exactly why Friday.


2002: Paroles out in June. In August, he steals the purse of a woman who tries to help him after he rams her car with his bike. As she’s going to give him money and bandages, he grabs her throat and her purse.


2003: Sentenced in May to 11 years in prison for unlawful vehicular invasion.


2010: Released on parole Nov. 16.

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#13 Yas

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 09:50 AM

Thanks Lou I was thinking the same lines about that guy's sentencing, He shouldn't even have been out on the streets if the system hadn't let him out before his time had been served.

#14 Yas

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:14 AM

Adding: http://www.idoc.stat...asp?idoc=B15948

#15 GarandFan

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:40 AM

I don't think the drug charges are necessary for deciding to keep him in prison.

Violent acts, however, are (should have been) the deciding factor. Far too much plea-bargaining, too.
"It takes all the running you can do just to keep in the same place."
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#16 belercous

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:54 PM

Lou; Duly noted. Drugs aren't this guy's problem, his behavior is. Many people use illegal drugs with no problem. Please reference GarandFan's last post. I agree with it in toto.