Crack Convicts Could Get Early Release

    In this Oct. 10, 2006 file photo, a Los Angeles police officer counts the number of doses of crack cocaine, as he files an evidence police report after a drug related arrest in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. One in every 20 federal prisoners could be eligible for early release under a potential sentencing change for inmates convicted of crack cocaine offenses that will be voted on Thursday, June 30, 2011 by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

    Damian Dovarganes, File / AP Photo

    It’s not exactly a get-out-of-jail-free card, but it is a get-out-of-jail-early card. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has ruled that people in jail for crack cocaine violations with now-outdated mandatory minimums will be eligible for early release. That follows a change in federal law passed in 2010 that brought sentences for crack closer to those for ordinary powder cocaine; the disparity was seen as racial, because blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be sentenced to long jail terms for crack. But the law was not retroactive, so criminals serving long sentences given before the law had no recourse. The commission’s decision could affect some 12,000 inmates. Only Congressional intervention—seen as unlikely—could reverse the decision.

    Read it at Associated Press