Pubdate: Sat, 22 Dec 2007
Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC)
Copyright: 2007 Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Author: Robert Stoesen


Residents of the Triad need not be concerned there will be a surge of 
federal prisoners convicted for crack cocaine being released 
("Officers wary of crack releases," Dec. 15). Although the U.S. 
Sentencing Commission shortened the guideline sentences for crack 
cocaine and made the changes retroactive, the lengthy mandatory 
minimum sentences for these crimes, enacted by Congress, have not changed.

For a crime involving at least 5 grams of crack, the mandatory 
minimum is five years. For at least 10 grams, it is 10 years.

Moreover, offenders sentenced under the career offender and armed 
career offender guidelines do not benefit from the retroactivity. Nor 
do those serving only the five-or 10-year mandatory minimums. Other 
restrictions are in place, as well.

Most important, any reduction to an offender's prison time is 
entirely under the purview of the court that sentenced the 
individual. It is safe to say that the prison doors are not going to 
be swinging wide open. Rather, this is one small step toward 
individualized sentencing, placed in the hands of judges, not 
legislators, for which groups like Families Against Mandatory 
Minimums have long advocated.

Robert Stoesen
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