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Abraham Bill Passes Friday Night As Senate Rejects Sentencing Commission's Lighter Sentences
WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham (R-Michigan) won a big victory over the drug pushers as the Senate passed his bill which blocks new sentencing guidelines lowering crack cocaine offenses. The Abraham Amendment passed by unanimous consent late Friday evening.
"Drug pushers all across America were cheering at the Sentencing Commission's proposal to lower prison sentences for crack offenses," Abraham said. "As hard as it is to believe, there are some policy makers in Washington who actually want to lower prison sentences for drug pushers who target our children. But tonight the Senate put an end to the drug dealers' celebration, and our children and neighborhoods are a little safer."
"This is no way to be waging the war on drugs, and the Senate did the right thing by rejecting the proposal to lower these drug sentences," Abraham said. "The purpose of the bill is simple: to block implementation of proposals by the Sentencing Commission that would lower sentences for crack dealers."
On May 1, the Sentencing Commission, an independent agency appointed by the President, proposed changes to the Sentencing Guidelines that would lower crack distribution sentences to between 1/2 and 1/6 of their present length. This would mean that some crack dealers who under current law would get substantial sentences could end up serving no jail time at all.
"I think this sends entirely the wrong message: that in the war against crack, society blinked," Abraham said. "That is not what we should be telling the crack dealers. And that is not what we should be telling the brave law abiding members of communities under attack by the crack dealers who are fighting back."
Abraham's bill will stop those Sentencing Commission proposals which automatically go into effect on November 1 -- and make sure that any other guidelines which lower drug sentences don't get implemented. The House must now take up similar action to defeat the guidelines.
The Sentencing Commission cited the reason for their proposal was out of concern that because a majority of crack distributors sentenced are African-Americans, the higher crack sentences creates a perception of unfairness. The Commission based their concern on the fact that sentences for powder cocaine sentences are lower than crack sentences.
"I agree with part of the Commission's concern, but the answer is not to lower the crack sentences, but to toughen the powder sentences," Abraham said. "That is why I hope Congress will act soon on the bill I've introduced to raise the sentences for powder distribution by making the triggers for mandatory minimums 100 grams for 5 years and 1000 grams for ten years, rather than 500 and 5000 as they are now."
"The Sentencing Commission's solution -- to address this 'unfairness' by lowering the crack sentences -- is a truly terrible idea. It is not fair to the vast majority of people living in communities, like Detroit, under attack by the crack dealers and trying to defend them -- many of whom are African-Americans. And I am sure it is the last thing in the world that many of them would want," Abraham said.
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