Mukasey to Congress: block crack sentencing cuts

Attorney General Michael Mukasey will tell a congressional panel today that he is no fan of the recent decision of the U.S Sentencing Commission to retroactively reduce guidelines for convictions involving crack cocaine.

According to testimony Mukasey prepared in advance to his appearance today before the House Judiciary Committee, Mukasey said that he is willing to go along with the new sentencing guidelines, which are slated to go into effect next month, but only for new, nonviolent first-time offenders.

In the meantime, he wants Congress to act before next month to block the new rules from going in place. The new rules would allow nearly 20,000 inmates to request a reduction of their sentences, and nearly 1,600 could request a reduction that would allow them to be released immediately.

“We think it is imperative for Congress to pass legislation to address the Sentencing Commission’s decision,” Mukasey wrote to the House committee. “I emphasize that we are not asking this committee to prolong the sentences of those offenders who pose the least threat to their communities, such as first-time, nonviolent offenders.”

The Commission’s decision to retroactively reduce crack sentencing guidelines came after a trio of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in December which gave judges broader discretion in venturing outside of federal guidelines in sentencing.

Source: AP

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