The Crack Gap, Reformed (Sorta)
You've probably seen this: The Supreme Court just put a de facto moratorium
on all executions until Baze
, a lethal injection case from Kentucky, gets decided next spring. (Here's
one prediction on how that will turn out.)
For my money, though, the bigger
criminal-justice news is that, tomorrow, the U.S. Sentencing Commission's new guidelines come into effect, reducing (somewhat) the disparity in penalties for crack and powder cocaine. It's not a huge change (see here
), but it's something. According
to the Legal Times
, if those guidelines are made retroactive—that's still undecided—then some 19,500 federal prisoners would be released early.
So there's that; there's the fact that the Supreme Court looks set
to give judges some leeway to deviate from the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity; and now conservatives like J.C. Watts and Pat Nolan are writing op-eds
in places like The Washington Times
arguing that the crack gap is unjust and counterproductive and needs to be fixed. I don't know if Congress is any closer to finally making its own reforms (like, say, Biden's bill
to eliminate the disparity entirely), but the momentum's nudging in that direction.