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Two Great Editorials to Close Out an Impressive Week

Ian S. Thompson,
Senior Legislative Advocate,
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May 1, 2009

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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