Crime and Punishment Criminal Justice War on Drugs

CRACKED: Lobbying for Fairness


That new Federal rule that brings the sentencing
for crack cocaine closer in line to the sentencing for powder cocaine (instead of it’s present 100 to 1 disparity) is set to kick in next Monday, March 3. As I mentioned two weeks ago, Attorney General Michael Mukasy has tried to derail the sentencing revisions from being retroactive, contending at a Congressional hearing, that U.S. communities would be overrun by violent drug-dispensing felons should the changes, put in place by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, be enacted.

This morning, however, more than fifty community leaders from all over the nation are showing up for what is being called “Crack the Disparity” Lobby Day to try to persuade their various congress people to settle the issue by passing crack cocaine sentencing reform themselves. Several versions of such bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate, most of them with bipartisan support.

(So buzz off Mukasy.)

In addition to press conferences
and meetings with individual lawmakers, the citizen lobbyists will attend today’s hearing titled “Cracked Justice – Addressing the Unfairness in Cocaine Sentencing” before the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

“My community has experienced the harm caused by drug abuse,” said Howard Saffold, a former Chicago police officer and participant in the “Crack the Disparity” Lobby Day cosponsored by The Sentencing Project. “We need services to treat people who are addicted to crack cocaine and employment opportunities for the young men who have, for various reasons, chosen to sell it. Excessive prison terms do not address the real problems.”

By the way, today’s Lobby Day is also being cosponsored by such notorious scofflaws and drug-huggers as the American Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the United Methodist Church.


NOTE: I just watched Sunday night’s edition of 60 Minutes,
in particular the segment on former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. (Thank you, TiVo.) I strongly suggest you watch it. The segment, which CBS effectively buried by scheduling it to run opposite the Oscars, speaks for itself. (The other segments—on the murder of reporter, Chauncey Bailey, and a repeat of an earlier episode on the disappearance of bees—are also worth watching.)


  • I didn’t watch it. Siegelman (Democrat) is a big-time crook, and even my liberal sister and brother-in-law couldn’t stand him or vote for him. And, Scrushy, the former head of Health South, lived high off the hog but cost investors millions. They should stay in prison with the crack convicts.

    On the retroactive sentencing of crackheads, it’s hard to trust the system to do the right thing no matter which direction it goes. I wonder how many of those convicted accepted a plea bargain on reduced charges of crack but are actually more serious drug offenders. We wouldn’t want those back on the street.

  • BTW, for the Republican conspiracy theorists, a station in Alabama broadcast a blank screen for twelve minutes of the 60 Minutes segment.

    Huntsville viewers who tuned into WHNT-TV Channel 19 Sunday evening to see a “60 Minutes” story on the alleged Republican conspiracy that sent former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to prison on federal bribery charges saw a blank screen … and the chance to declare yet another conspiracy.

    “We had a technical failure at our transmitter site on Monte Sano which kept us from receiving the CBS signal,” said (WHNT General Manager) Pylant. …Most people understand it was equipment failure,” Pylant said. “There are some, though, we’re having a harder time winning over.”

    Among those are the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party, which is asking the Federal Communications Commission to seek a formal inquiry into the situation.

    “It has come to the attention of many Democrats in north Alabama and that the principal owners of WHNT are Bush Pioneers (people who have raised $100,000 or more for the President’s election campaigns) and major Republican donors,” wrote Alabama Democratic Party Executive Director Jim Spearman in a Monday press release.

    Siegelman attorney Vince Kilborn said Monday that a…special prosecutor should be appointed to the case.

    So does U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who tried last year to get Siegelman’s case included with others under congressional review for possible “selective prosecution” by Karl Rove and the Justice Department.

    “Many suspect that the enormous pressure was put on CBS to not air the Siegelman story. If CBS received political pressure to stifle the First Amendment rights of the network or affiliate, the FCC and Congress should take appropriate oversight into the matter.”

    Why won’t they admit that Siegelman is a Democrat and in prison for being a crook rather than blaming Karl Rove? How pathetic.

    – – –

    Okay, I just wanted to insert that. Let’s return to the main topic of the crack convicts.

  • Celeste, I suspect you already know this but Scott Horton of Harper’s has been blogging about the Seigelman case for some time. An interesting footnote to the drama was the Hunt channel WHNT had a blackout during the program’s broadcast in northern Alabama. Reasons behind the blackout are speculative and suggestive, but not necessarily definitive.

  • Listener, why would a station do something to bring more attention to an issue if they wanted it stuffed? Left-wing conspiracy theorists know no bounds–like saying that Bush stole Florida.

    On the crack sentencing issue from above….“Young men who have for various reasons, chosen to sell it.” Well, isn’t that a nice and tidy phrase for convicted drug pushers? Words like that don’t make me feel warm that these guys fighting for release take drugs seriously. I would feel better if they admitted that it was a bad problem that could become worse instead of watering down the crime and impact on people’s lives. Then, we could talk about early release.

  • Of course they blacked it out. Like Woody they know that being a Dem has to be a crime. Reaally, I used to think that Siegelman was guilty. Then I saw the evidence. Really, Woody is a broken record. And a pretty silly one too.

  • rlc, I spend a lot of time in Alabama and keep up with its news. Siegelman was a crook long before the crime that imprisoned him, and that’s in general agreement with both liberals and conservatives. Of course, being a Democrat is a crime, but it just sentences one to a life of stupidity and government dependence.

  • Listener, I really need to go back and read all the Scott Horton stuff, as I’ve been late in coming to this issue. (Raw story has a series too, but I like Horton’s sense of intellectual balance a lot better). But I will. Thanks for flagging it.

    Woody, like or loathe Siegalman as a politician (or a person), I recommend you watch the 60 Minutes thang. Grant Woods is pretty impressive.

  • Celeste, since you like 60 Minutes, then you’ll like their next segment:

    Tues Feb 26 2008 15:29:02

    The assassination of his chief political rival was her own fault Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf tells Lara Logan in his first one-on-one interview since the death of Benazir Bhutto. The exclusive interview will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Jan. 6 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

    In the interview that took place in Pakistan this morning (5), Musharraf tells Logan, “For standing up outside the car, I think it was she to blame alone. Nobody else. Responsibility is hers.” Bhutto was killed in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi last week while standing up in a moving car with her head through the roof hatch.

    A suicide bomber blew himself up near her car at the time of her death and the government of Pakistan initially said the concussion of the blast caused her to hit her head on the roof hatch. There was also a gunman present, but itÕs not known whether his shots hit Bhutto. Asked by Logan if he believes a gunshot could be the cause of BhuttoÕs head injury, he replies, “Yes, yes.” “So she may have been shot?Ó asks Logan. “Yes, absolutely, yes. Possibility,” says Musharraf.

    Some also speculate that Bhutto, who was campaigning for prime minister in Musharraf’s government, had inadequate security. “Even with the benefit of hindsight, you feel that you and your government did everything possible to give Benazir Bhutto the security she needed?” asks Logan. Musharraf insists he did. “Yes, yes absolutely. And you have to… remember… she had the threat. So she was given more security than any other person.”


    How can you trust any show that has been associated with Dan Rather?

  • Because Rather was right and Drudge was wrong.hrub did go AWOL in ‘Bama probably because of a cocaine binge. Sorry to breakj it to you. Your guy is a sociopath.

  • So, The NY Times never has equipment failures? I didn’t know that they were better technicians than reporters, which wouldn’t take a lot.

  • I wonder if the Witnessla ever has any technical difficulties? I wouldn’t mind a black-out of the “broken record”, who is constantly posting Ad-Hominem comments. We all know who I’m talking about, his name is W…….*****************************///////////////////////////////——————–

  • I finally watched the segment about Siegelman. The prosecution was rife with conflicts of interest that would have been vetted and resolved in any administration other than Bush’s and perhaps Nixon’s.

    52 former state attorney’s general from both parties believe that Siegelman was railroaded. Grant Wood’s comment when Scott Pelley asked him, “You’re a lifelong Republican. How do you square this?” and his reponse, “I’m an American first,” speaks volumes.

    There are none so blind as those who are willfully so.

  • In the interest of truth, see this fom Friday’s New York Times:

    In an attempt to clear up questions about how an Alabama television station lost its signal at the start of Sunday’s edition of “60 Minutes” on CBS, the management of the station, WHNT-TV, issued a statement Thursday citing equipment failure.

    The station, in Huntsville, said that after a review, it had concluded that the blackout was related to a similar interruption during a basketball game the day before.

    The break in the signal, which lasted about eight minutes, came as the CBS News program was beginning a report of special interest to Alabama residents: an investigation into whether the trial and conviction of a former governor, Don Siegelman, was politically motivated. The report included charges that Republican and Bush administration officials, including Karl Rove, had sought to discredit Mr. Siegelman, a Democrat.

    The station initially suggested that some failure at CBS was to blame but quickly reversed that, saying the problem involved a “receiver” at the station. The general manager, Stan Pylant, said Thursday in an interview that there was no intention to keep the Siegelman story from viewers, citing the fact that the report was replayed on two newscasts and posted on the station’s Web site.


    Thursday’s statement also emphasized that reports of a link between the ownership of the station and the Bush administration were inaccurate. The station owner is an investment firm called Oak Hill Capital, which is led by Robert M. Bass, one of the billionaire Bass brothers of Fort Worth.

    Though Mr. Bass’s brothers have been strong financial supporters of Mr. Bush, Robert Bass has never contributed to any of Mr. Bush’s campaigns, said a representative, Michael Pascale, who is the managing director of the public relations firm Abernathy MacGregor Group.

    Mr. Pascale offered a list of Mr. Bass’s political donations for the last 10 years and they included mostly Democratic candidates, including John Kerry when he ran against Mr. Bush in 2004 and Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor who sought the Democratic presidential nomination this year.

    I’m certainly inclined to believe them and this seems plausible.

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