Crack cocaine guidelines harsh, racially unfair
Washington, DC (March 18, 2002) --Testimony to be presented to the United States Sentencing Commission by National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Irwin Schwartz calls crack cocaine sentencing guidelines "egregiously harsh" and cites statistics which show that 93% of crack cocaine defendants are African-American or Hispanic.
Schwartz, a criminal defense lawyer from Seattle, will testify during hearings before the Sentencing Commission from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, 2002.
According to Schwartz' written statement, the average crack cocaine sentence of 119.5 months is 55% longer than that for powder cocaine, and is unmatched by that for any other drug. For instance, Sylvia Foster, of Gainesville, FL, was sentenced to more than twenty years for peripheral involvement in her boyfriend's crack cocaine dealing, an example of, as one court characterized it, the "tiger trap" of crack sentencing laws being "sprung on a sick kitten."
Statistics cited in the testimony point to the unfairness of the 100:1 weight ratio for a five-year minimum sentence for crack versus powder cocaine. The five grams of crack cocaine required to trigger the five-year minimum result in 10-50 doses, for a street value of $225-$750, while the 500 grams of powder cocaine equate with 2500-5000 doses, with a street value of $32,500-$50,000; one result is that 66.5% of crack cocaine defendants are street-level dealers.
Legislation previously passed by Congress requires that crack cocaine sentencing be comparatively harsher overall than that for powder cocaine; NACDL proposes a combination of 1:1 ratios for street-level dealers and 2:1 ratios for mid- and high-level dealers.
Others testifying at the hearing include Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU''s Washington office, and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, a former member of NACDL.
Schwartz can be reached at (206) 623-5084 (office). Click here for testimony online.
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.