Office of Defender Services
- Testimony of Assistant United States Attorney General Lanny Breuer Supporting Elimination of Crack/Powder Disparity (April 30, 2009)
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, Assistant United States Attorney General Lanny Breuer declared that "Congress's goal should be to completely eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine." This was the first time that the Department of Justice had supported equalization of crack/powder cocaine sentencing.
Mr. Breuer was one of several witnesses who testified at the April 30th hearing on "Restoring Fairness to Federal Sentencing: Addressing the Crack-Powder Disparity."On May 21, 2009, Mr. Breuer reiterated the Administration's position before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security's Hearing on: Unfairness in Federal Cocaine Sentencing: Is it Time to Crack the 100 to 1 Disparity?
- Joint Statement of Thomas W. Hillier, II and Jon Sands at the April 29, 2009 U.S. Senate Hearing on Restoring Fairness to Sentencing: Addressing the Crack-Powder Disparity
Thomas W. Hillier, II, Federal Public Defender, Western District of Washington, Chair, Federal Defender Legislative Expert Panel; Jon Sands, Federal Public Defender, District of Arizona, Federal Defender Sentencing Guidelines Committee, on behalf of the Federal Public and Community Defenders, before the Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs of the Senate Judiciary Committee
This testimony urges the following reforms: (1) penalties for offenses involving the same quantity of crack and powder cocaine should be equalized at a level no greater than the current level for powder cocaine; (2) differences among offenses and offenders should be taken into account by the sentencing judge in the individual case, and aggravating circumstances should not be built into every sentence for crack cocaine; (3) the mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine should be repealed; (4) mandatory minimums should be repealed; (5) recidivist sentencing enhancements should be narrowly tailored to minimize their disparate impact on people of color; (6) enhanced penalties for drug distribution near protected zones should be repealed.
- Statement of A.J. Kramer at the February 12, 2008 U.S. Senate Hearing on Federal Cocaine Sentencing Laws: Reforming the 100- to-1 Crack/Powder Disparity
A.J. Kramer, Federal Defender, District of the District of Columbia, on behalf of the Federal Public and Community Defenders, before the Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs of the Senate Judiciary Committee
This testimony urges Congress to make the following reforms: equalize the penalties for crack and powder cocaine at the current powder cocaine quantity levels; direct the USSC to review and, if appropriate, amend the guidelines applicable to all drug types, to account for aggravating and mitigating circumstances that may or may not be present in individual cases; repeal the mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine; repeal the mandatory minimum for all drug offenses; establish a pilot program for federal substance abuse courts; authorize the appropriation of additional funds for the defense of drug trafficking cases in the event Congress authorizes increased salaries and expenses for the prosecution of such cases. In A.J. Kramer's Supplemental Statement he also addresses DOJ's arguments against retroactive application of the crack cocaine amendments and refutes DOJ claims regarding the rates of violence and recidivism of crack cocaine offenders.
- Statement of Michael S. Nachmanoff at the February 26, 2008 U.S. House of Representatives Hearing - Cracked Justice: Addressing the Unfairness in Cocaine Sentencing
Michael S. Nachmanoff, Federal Defender, Eastern District of Virginia, on behalf of the Federal Public and Community Defenders, before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
This testimony provides additional support and statistics for many of the same arguments made in A.J. Kramer's Testimony & Supplemental Testimony (described above on this page) before the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- DOJ Memo of May 1, 2009 on Department Policies and Procedures Concerning Sentencing for Crack Cocaine Offenses
This memo from the Deputy Attorney General to all United States Attorneys directs prosecutors to "inform courts that the Administration believes Congress and the Commission should eliminate the crack/powder disparity, but that Congress has not yet determined whether or how to achieve a more appropriate sentencing scheme for crack and powder offenses. Until Congress acts, courts must exercise their discretion under existing case law to fashion a sentence that is consistent with the objectives of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Prosecutors should be governed by the facts and circumstances of individual cases and existing law. They may indicate that they will not object to a reasonable variance in an average case."
- 2007 USSC Report to Congress on Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy
In this report, the Commission urges reform of the crack cocaine sentencing laws. Facts and arguments contained in the report may be very useful to practitioners defending crack cocaine cases.