WASHINGTON, D.C. — On May 17, FAMM President Julie Stewart strongly urged the U.S. Department of Justice to let stand today’s decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which a majority ruled that the Fair Sentencing Act should be applied retroactively. The case is US v. Blewett, No. 12-5226 (6th Cir. May 17, 2013). The Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), enacted in 2010, reduced the sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine offenses from 100:1 to 18:1, but only for those sentenced after the law took effect. In Blewett, a majority ruled that applying the discriminatory and congressionally-repudiated harsher penalties to those sentenced before the FSA became law violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
In response to today’s ruling, Ms. Stewart released the following statement:
“The Justice Department should let this ruling stand. The administration knows the old crack sentencing regime was wrong, and it wisely fought for reform. Because of how the FSA was written, however, thousands of individuals didn’t get any relief and are being forced to serve sentences no one in Congress or the administration can defend in good conscience.
“These individuals should not be treated like guinea pigs in a criminal justice experiment gone wrong. Their unjustifiably long sentences are what convinced Congress that its original crack sentencing law was a mistake. It would be obscene to not let those who suffered the most receive any relief.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, “On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”
President Obama should listen to his conscience and let this ruling stand.
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