Jacob Sullum on Two Moves Toward Freeing People Who Don’t Belong in Prison

In 2010 Congress reduced the
arbitrary sentencing disparity between the smoked and snorted forms
of cocaine, but the changes did not apply retroactively, so
thousands of nonviolent offenders continue to serve prison terms
that nearly everyone now agrees are excessive. Last Thursday, the
Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would allow such
prisoners to petition for resentencing under the new rules, and the
Justice Department announced that President Obama, who so far has
shortened the sentences of nine crack offenders, would like to
issue more such commutations. Jacob Sullum says these simultaneous
moves by the legislative and executive branches suggest that,
nearly three decades after Congress created draconian crack
penalties, some of the lives wrecked by that punitive panic may yet
be salvaged.

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