Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Federal judge turns against crack penalties

A federal judge who led the move to impose harsh penalties for crack cocaine under the first Bush administration has turned around and now condemns the sentencing rules as "unconscionable."

US District Judge Reggie B. Walton told the US Sentencing Commission that federal laws requiring dramatically longer sentences for crack cocaine than for cocaine powder led to the perception within minority communities that courts are unfair.

Walton said a white college student arrested with a kilogram of powder cocaine would probably get 3 to 4 years in prison, while a black high school dropout caught with the same amount of crack would face a mandatory 10-year sentence and the possibility of a life sentence. Read more.

Between 1989 and 1991, Judge Walton served as President George H. W. Bush's Associate Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President and as President Bush's Senior White House Advisor for Crime.

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