Lawmakers blast AG’s request on crack sentencing

Yesterday, lawmakers refused Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s request to stop the new retroactive crack cocaine sentence guidelines from going into effect in March.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy said that the measure will not cause a sudden release of violent criminals, and added that he was disappointed in “this administration’s failure to support even modest reforms of unjust, overreaching mandatory drug penalties.”

“As the Attorney General, himself a former Federal judge, should have known, and as he had to concede when questioned before [the House Judiciary] Committee, no one can be released without a hearing before a Federal judge who is obligated to evaluate each case and to consider factors such as the criminal history and violence,” Leahy said in a statement. “And the Justice Department participates in those hearings.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy blasted Mukasey for using “scare tactics.”

“In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, he warned that the improvements in the law would result in the release of ‘violent gang members’ and cause more crime,” Kennedy said in testimony entered into the record of yesterday’s hearing. “We can’t let such scare tactics by the Administration deter us from our goal of achieving fairness and legitimacy in the criminal justice system.”

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