Tricky Game of Dominoes

Category: , By Christian
Interesting story in the Star, yesterday. For years, people have been screaming that the sentencing guidelines for powder cocaine and crack cocaine are racist. Those people were right. According to the article, "previously, a single gram of crack cocaine triggered the same punishment as 100 grams of powder cocaine. Crack penalties routinely were as much as eight times longer." The kicker is that crack is more widely used by poor black people, while powder coke has a rich white customer base.

So now, the penalties are getting evened out. Great. The judicial system is making itself pretty vulnerable by essentially admitting that things haven't been fair for a while. But that vulnerability is just one domino that is now knocking a whole bunch of other dominoes over and creating some interesting questions.

Namely: should inmates previously sentenced under the old guidelines have their sentences adjusted?

My first reaction is that if you are going to adjust the guidelines, you should not punish people just because they got caught before the reformation. So, working under the premise that convicts might get their sentences adjusted, there are a handful of measures I would like to see taken...

*Communicate to these inmates that they are not being absolved of their guilt. Their sentences are just being made more fair.
*Look at ways to differentiate the street-level dealer from the high-end trafficker.
*What would happen if you took the money, or even a portion of the money, being saved by releasing these inmates and use it for a very intentional and very structured rehabilitation program? The fact of the matter is that if we just release there folks to the streets, they will probably resort to these crimes again for the sake of survival.

Just some things to think about.

Fair Dinkum

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