(HuffingtonPost) Hillary Clinton has come out against making retroactive the small change in sentencing guidelines that allows some people convicted under the overly harsh crack laws to have their sentences reviewed by a judge, and if they are found eligible, given early release. Most blacks affected will still serve more than a decade in prison for a nonviolent crime for which whites often escape incarceration entirely– but nevermind.
Hillary has bought into fears that this means a sudden massive release of an army of Willie Hortons. But over 90% of crack prisoners sentenced under these laws have no record of violent crime– and 94% were not classified as “kingpins” or even mid-level drug dealers. Further, the judge reviewing the sentences provides a safety net to ensure that those who are a risk to the public are not released early.
Obama, meanwhile, supports making the sentencing change retroactive. Even though politically, given his admission about his own drug use, he has far more to lose than she does by doing the right thing.
I remember when Bill Clinton was running in 1992. Here was a likable guy who had at least been around marijuana, even if he “didn’t inhale”, and he played saxophone, leading me to believe he’d at least been around some people who smoke marijuana. I was excited by the idea that we’d finally have a president who realized how destructive our War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Pharmaceutical, Non-Alcoholic, Tobacco-Free) Drugs really is.
When Clinton came into office, there were about 300,000 arrests nationally of marijuana smokers. By the time he left, there were about 700,000. When California passed Prop 215 legalizing medical cannabis in the state, it was Bill Clinton’s administration that sent the jack-booted federal thugs to raid dispensaries and arrest patients.
Now we have Barack Obama, a candidate who, when asked about his admitting to marijuana use in his youth, said, “I inhaled, frequently. That was the point.” Would he finally be the president who does something positive to end the drug war? Or would he turn out like Bill Clinton and turn his back on us cannabis consumers?
I think this view on the crack sentencing provides us a glimpse into the possible administrations of the two Democratic candidates. Both have pledged they would end DEA raids on medical cannabis states; however, Hillary Clinton keeps touting her years of experience in the Clinton White House as First Lady, and that White House started the raids. If Hillary Clinton can’t support something as moral as fixing the racist laws on crack sentencing (5g of crack — inner city black’s cocaine — gets you the same sentence as 500g of powder — suburban white’s cocaine), I don’t much expect her to be any better on the marijuana issue.