Supreme Court Gives Judges Greater Leeway in Drug Sentencing

December 10, 2007 12:00 am

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ACLU Calls Decision a Victory for Fairness Under the Law

NEW YORK – By a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Kimbrough v. United States that it is no longer mandatory for federal judges to adhere to the federal Sentencing Guidelines, which provide for disparate sentences for crack and cocaine offenses. The United States Sentencing Commission has itself rejected the 100:1 disparity as unreasonable.

The following can be attributed to Graham Boyd, Director of the ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project:

“Today’s ruling upholds the common sense notion that judges should not have to turn a blind eye to the fact that the crack versus powder cocaine sentencing disparity is unsound in theory and racially discriminatory in practice. After almost 20 years on the books, the 100:1 disparity has proven unfair and ineffective. This decision means that judges can and should see that justice is done by issuing fair sentences.”

The ACLU also urges prompt consideration of Senator Joseph Biden’s Drug Sentencing Reform and Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act of 2007, legislation that would equalize the penalties for crack and powder cocaine.

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