D.C. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman became one of the first judges to employ the same sentencing guidelines for powder cocaine and crack offenses, The Blog of the Legal Times reported today.
Defendant Anthony Lewis was sentenced to 162 months for possessing 18.7 grams of crack, but yesterday Friedman lowered his sentence to 130 months, according to The BLT. Northern District of Iowa U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett implemented the same standards as Friedman last month, The BLT said.
“Thus, in the future, this Court will apply the 1-to-1 ratio in all crack cocaine cases and then will separately consider all aggravating factors applicable in any individual case, such as violence, injury, recidivism or possession or use of weapons,” Friedman wrote, according to The BLT.
The House Judiciary crime, terrorism and homeland security subcommittee is considering a series of bills that will revise the 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine penalties established by Congress in the 1980s. The decades old law gives the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the sale of five grams of crack cocaine as it does for the sale of 500 grams of powder cocaine.
The Justice Department has called for the end of the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing. DOJ Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer the current sentencing policies – which disfavor blacks because crack is generally sold in poor urban communities – are “hard to justify.”
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