Surge in Crack Cocaine Clemency Requests Expected in Response to New DOJ Criteria

April 22, 2014 - 8:58 AM

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced new criteria for clemency relating to crack cocaine offenders.  As a result, the Justice Department is bracing for the wave of clemency requests, which could lead to crack cocaine users being released back into the general public (via the LA Times):

"The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications to restore a degree of justice, fairness and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety," Holder said. "The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences."

In 2010 President Obama signed into law a measure aimed at evening out a long-standing disparity in the sentencing of users of powder cocaine and crack cocaine, with crack cocaine, used disproportionally by African Americans, drawing significantly higher sentences than powder.

But Congress did not make the law retroactive, leaving thousands of people in prison long after they would have been released under the new law."