Two Great Editorials to Close Out an Impressive Week

What a week it's been! On Monday and Tuesday, dozens of dedicated advocates from across the country were here in Washington to meet with Members of Congress about the pressing need to finally (after nearly 23 years) eliminate the infamous 100-to-1 crack sentencing disparity.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice, for the first time, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and stated that it is the administration's position that Congress should act this year to completely eliminate the disparity.

And now today, both The New York Times and The Boston Globe have great editorials highlighting the testimony from this week's congressional hearing and urge Congress to step-up to the plate to finally end this glaring injustice in our criminal justice system.

This is about making sure those moving words carved over the entrance to the Supreme Court - Equal Justice Under Law - are good for more than tourist pictures on a summer afternoon.

As The Globe observed today:

In poignant testimony following Breuer's, Judge Reggie Walton, an African-American who was appointed to the federal judiciary by Ronald Reagan and rose up the ranks under George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, declared that "jails are loaded with people who look like me." The law created such mistrust that jurors often told him after trials that they could not convict, even if a defendant seemed guilty, because the mandatory sentence was so Draconian.

They end their editorial by stating:

What's sad is that this did not happen until America had a president who can look into the jails and feel the sting of seeing how loaded they are with people who look just like him.

It is certainly sad that it has taken over two decades to get to this point. However, now that it has arrived, we need to seize the moment and the momentum by FINALLY ending this injustice. Let's keep the pressure on!

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Maggie

Rehibilation does not work if the person does not want it. The sentence should be the same for both. Remember the President is of both races and not a descendent of slavery.

Anonymous

Greetings:

Thanks for encouraging discourse on issues such as those arising from detention of terrorists at Guantanamo.
A vigorous exchange of ideas on this and other subjects clearly is useful. What follows represents one point of view regarding Obama's decision to close Guantanmo without knowing what he'll do with the detainees, and a suggested resolution of that problem.

It was previously compiled at the suggestion of congress.org, and is largely self-explanatory.

Sincerely,
Ken Wilson aka Special K
Lawrenceville, NJ

P.S. And thanks for a legible code.
KW

C O P Y
April 25, 2009
Dear Congress.org::

This is to comply with your request that you be apprised of responses from elected officials to submissions via congress.org .
More specifically, I am providing herewith one such response (by Senator Lautenberg, NJ) that is included in full below, which did not specifically address the suggestions I made in my communication to him (appended) regarding the problem of dealing with detainees "currently held at the Guantanmo Bay detainment facility in Cuba".

The referenced communication from Sen. Lautenberg, dated: April 24, 2009,
and my response, follows:

C O P Y
April 24, 2009
Dear Mr. Wilson:

Thank you for contacting me regarding detainees currently held at the Guantanamo Bay detainment facility in Cuba. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
On January 22, 2009, President Obama issued executive orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within one year and review military tribunals. These orders also established an interagency task force to review detention policies and procedures and review all individual cases at the detainment facility. Currently, no decisions have been made regarding the future of these detainees.
The “Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Safe Closure Act of 2009” (S. 370), which has been introduced in the Senate, would prohibit federal funds from being used to transfer detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to any facility in the U.S. or to construct a new facility in the U.S. to house these detainees. (emphasis added).
This legislation has been referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee. While I am not a member of this Committee, please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should this legislation come before the full Senate. Thank you again for contacting me.

Sincerely,

Response to Sen. Lautenberg

April 25, 2009
Dear Senator Lautenberg:

So … Obama is closing down Guantamo
With absolutely no plans for the future of the soon-to-be erstwhile inmates,
And no funding for their transportation elsewhere
(As the Senate in its wisdom firmly dictates).

Take heart.
It seems likely that al-Queda would fund transportation
Of erstwhile Gitmo detainees, to sites near our (perhaps too few) nuclear power stations,
The Pentagon, Capitol Hill and White House, respectively,
Where in public housing they’ve secured reservations.

Also supply additional funds to equip them with tools and ingredients
Classifiable as constituting bomb-making equipment--
And should those funds later be deemed insufficient
Send more by rapid, overnight Priority Mail shipment.

While this scenario has not yet materialized
That there’s potential for its realization makes just as much sense
As that of closing a house of detention without knowing what to do with the feral inmates--
Or senators passing bailout legislation completely unaware of its potentially harmful contents.

(For the latter--and particularly for its having been done in unseemly haste--
To place the basic onus we don’t have too far to go--
While you and others voting “Yea” share some small part of the blame
The true responsibility rests on the shoulders of Specter, Collins and Snowe).

More seriously, please re-read (see below) what I sent to your office some time ago,
Namely, a dispatch outlining a way out for Obama
That calls for Gitmo residents to be temporarily transferred to a place called Tamms Correctional Center
(In his home state of Illinois) and what may then qualify as a potential, syndicated real-life TV drama).

Where should Gitmo residents go?
By Special K
Disassociated Press
February 28, 2009

Reference:
Picture not shown with caption:
"Illinois' highest-security prison a study in isolation
John Smierciak, Chicago Tribune
Damien Terry is unshackled before being returned to his cell at Tamms Correctional Center in Illinois.
When inmates at the maximum-security prison are moved, they are restricted by leg chains and handcuffs
and are guarded by two officers.
The state's most dangerous inmates live with sparse human contact, no jobs and little chance for education at Tamms. (emphasis added)."

By Gary Marx
February 28, 2009
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-illinois-prison28-2...

As Obama considers closing Guantanamo
Just where the terrorist inmates will go
Is a pertinent question
(Cause for stress indigestion)
The answer to which none now seems to know.

This reporter now believes they should enter
Cells reserved for them at Tamms Correctional Center
Behind an iron gate
In Obama’s “home” state--
Vis a vis Gitmo, different as summer from winter!

It seems likely that the ACLU
Would be aghast at the unpleasant view,
And petition Barack
To send ‘em all back
With the usual amount of uncalled for ado.

And the fellows, themselves, would soon see
That back at Gitmo they’d, better off be
Having communal fun
Under the southerly sun
Roaming about the vicinity shackle-free.

With periodic visits from well-meaning folks
Anxious, from them, tales of torture to coax
And spread far and wide
To that audience outside
In which sympathy such reports always evokes.

This scenario likely won’t materialize
But to make it happen Barack would be wise,
It would put Tamms on the map,
And mirabile dictu, mayhap,
Serve to cut Guantanamo critics, all, “down to size”.

And almost certainly, back to Guantanamo
Erstwhile detainees would be happy to go
Having seen real prison life
With unpleasantness, rife,
They’d appreciate what they have at Gitmo.

He could then turn his unfettered attention
To alleviating conditions in a place of detention
That (a) with Geneva’s conventions doesn’t comply
(b) As a quasi-torture chamber may qualify, and
(c) Seems deserving of dishonorable mention.

PrisonReformNOW

"What’s sad is that this did not happen until America had a president who can look into the jails and feel the sting of seeing how loaded they are with people who look just like him."

It may not only be the fact that we have an intelligent president who appears to be driven by reason, but also the general phenomenon of the repressive prison state being on the decline during economic hard times. Numerous states are reconsidering their incredibly repressive sentencing laws to save on their prison expenses. It's kind of sad how the purse, not concern for their fellow citizens, is the motivation here.

Rob

You guys are funny. You will support crack until a crack house opens next door than you will complain about how the neighbor hood has gone down hill. Same for the fat cat in Washington. If a crack house opened next door to Nancy Poelse she would do everything she could to get it shut down and put the people in jail. This just shows how stupid the ACLU is.

Alvin McCuistion

My feeling is that mandatory sentencing guidelines incorporated into a law passed by Congress intrude into and nullify the province of the Judiciary and violate the constitutional concept of separation of powers of the three branches of government. Determination of guilt or innocence and sentencing for a finding of guilt belongs to the Judiciary only. Isn't this correct?

roald

Rob, is your concern poverty or drug use? If drug use, as I presume, you should be just as horrified that your well-to-do neighbor has parties where cocaine is available and want your neighbor pushed as harshly as your other neighbor, the crack house operator.

michael glasgow

I,m a medical smoker of marijuana.
now I find myself on trial- inarizona as I was medicating on private land an officer arrested-me stating-: you know you cant smoke marijuana in public".
other things to cosider besides the 34 days in lock-up here in Tucson was the guards who physically violate-us, intimidate and threaten to do more, all while waiting, to be found guilty/ innocent. Now I,m almost 60 yrs. and w/ a legitament use, card and need that I,m not a recreational smoker by any-means. Well the smell is still the smell. But I object to their facist use of police brutality, on people waiting to be judged, yes this is the America- of the free/ rights, right.
m.glasgow

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