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The decision for sentencing began far back as the 1800's, criminal justice professional once believe in rehabilitation rather than punishment. It was the belief that criminals were acceptable to rehabilitation once the review of the defendant life experience and if there were any extenuating circumstance that could affect any possibility of given them rehabilitation. Within this particular system from states, federal, judges once had the discretion to take into account the defendant's character and their background and of course the type of crime that the defendant committee, the judge have in their discretion to impost some sort of sentence. Since that time Congress needed to construct some sort of uniformity within the sentencing systems. Congress first enacted the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, (P.L. No. 98-473, 98 Stat. 1987) then they enacted the Sentencing Guidelines (United States Sentencing Commission, 2010) that many in the judicial community have criticized for not allowing any sentencing discretion.
Because the system became full of disparity and inequity, Congress again enacted an amendment that was attached to the Prosecutorial Remedies and Tools Against the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003(PROTECTION Act) called the Feeney Amendment (Title IV of S. 151, Public law 108-21), this was to address the "perceived " inadequacies of the federal sentencing system. While there isn't any explicit language in the United States Constitution there are exclusive jurisdiction for federal sentencing regarding the Legislative Branch that has the power to define federal crimes and degree and method of punishment, the judicial branch that imposes the punishment of the offenses that set the limited by the legislature, and the Executive Branch which will decided where the offender will be housed and when they are released how they would be supervised if necessary.
For the past 100 years, the federal government's system for sentencing criminals was determine by the courts where they the courts had the discretion of the decision regarding the offender where they would be incarcerated, the length of their incarceration and any additional punishment from imposing fines to probation. The system allowed the offenders depending on the crime that was committed to have the opportunity to return to society, either by probation or parole, and they would be under the authority of a probation or parole officer. The variations of discretion that was allowed by the sentencing official, it led to serious discrepancy in sentencing among States and Federal criminal justice system. Due to the seriousness of the disparity in sentencing, it was determined by Congress that there need to be a new system put in place. Congress in 1958, (85th United States Congress, 1957-1959), remove the discretionary system and created and implemented a judicial system, that was to formulated new sentencing standards.
Fifteen year later in 1973, the sentencing system that was in place was failing, until the United States Parole Board established customary range of guidelines for confinement. Congress in 1976 (94th United States Congress, 1975-1977) endorsed the customary range guidelines through the Parole Commission and Reorganization Act of 1975, what is now known at the Board of Parole,(United State Department of Justice, 1997) this act by Congress would allow the Parole Commission a modern role in the sentencing system for individual judges. This new system will allowed judges to continue to sentences, but now Congress has implemented statutory sentencing range. Again, 1986 Congress enacted the Anti Drug Abuse Act, (P.L. 99-570, and 100 Stat. 3207) to reinstate mandatory sentences for drug possession. With this particular act it created the distinction between offenders for simple possession of crack cocaine compare to offender of simple possession of powder cocaine. Until the recent passing of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, that is to reduce the sentencing disparity among races,
Since the enactment of the several sentencing system by States and Federal criminal system, the inequality in sentencing has not been reduced. From the data that is available, the opinion of society, and the implementation regarding punishing criminal have change over the years, and criminals must be punish severely but fairly. The implementation of the sentencing guidelines and mandatory sentencing for non violent drug offenders are impacting African Americans and Latinos at an alarming rate. The implementation of the sentencing systems the goal of these policies was to distributed fairness and equality in the sentencing and removed disparity and inequality in sentencing. Unfortunately the opposite has occurred and many that are in the criminal justice system are paying the price of being unfairly sentenced.
The purpose of this comparative analysis is to re-examine the decision on the racial and ethnic disparity of the drug policy among the states and federal sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine. Racial discrimination in sentencing in the United States today is no more shocking that it was 30 years ago, but as much as some situation has improve, unfortunately racial discriminatory sentencing among minorities today is far more insidious and more obvious, than it was in the past.
The past guideline was a great indicator of inequality of justice and sentencing, and what and why the decision to provide and implement a new guideline to provide equality of justice and sentencing that has long been desire? There has been limited research on the decision and the impact of race and ethnic; among African Americans, Hispanics and White. The dramatically racial disparity in sentencing for offense involving crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine that has led many minorities being subjected to longer penalties that is set forth in the sentencing guidelines. Combine with the history of racial discrimination associated with drug laws long history of racism in the United States.
The "war on drugs" in American enacted federal and states polices is of one mind set, and the minority community these policy has have a devastating impact. The non-violent drug users and sellers should be punished severely, but there isn't any uniformity for similar charges for similar offenses. In Wisconsin, (Mayrace, 2007) African American drug offenders are incarcerated 59 percent higher than Whites, and Hispanic offender are incarcerated 53 percent higher than Whites. In Illinois (Lurigio, A.,J., Harkenrider, M., & Loose, P.,2005) African American were 50 percent more likely to be sentenced to prison and 30 percent for Hispanic and 15 percent for White and Minnesota(Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission 2005), 65% of drug offender were white and 24% were blacks. One question is why there is such a large disproportion in sentencing among African American men, when White men clearly out number African American men? When African Americans are penalize harsher than other ethnic groups.
1) What was the decision to implement new drug policy regarding sentencing guidelines?
2) Does judges inability to deviate from mandatory sentencing range impact racial disparity in sentencing guidelines on drug policy?
3) How will sentencing for crack and powder cocaine offenders compare between federal and state level?
4) Is there prosecutorial abuse in charging African American with drug charges?
This research study type will be base on a descriptive research, where the variables will be identified and independent and dependent and explain the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Which will be accomplished through literature reviews, that will assist me in identify the variables of interest and their relationship.