900 inmates might be released early

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GREENVILLE, S.C. --- As many as 900 federal inmates in South Carolina serving time on crack cocaine convictions might be released early under new sentencing guidelines.

The reductions are aimed at eliminating the large disparity between sentences for crack cocaine and those for powder cocaine offenses.

The number of inmates leaving prison early will be spread out over the next 30 years, depending on the length of their sentences, Quincy Avinger, the deputy chief of the South Carolina District U.S. Probation Office, told The Greenville News.

At least 17 people have been released from prison in the Upstate in the month since federal judges have been able to reduce crack cocaine sentences. Those released are under probationary supervision, Deputy Chief Avinger said.

Probation officers still have about a third of the estimated 1,300 inmates serving crack sentences left to review. The probation office makes recommendations on eligible inmates to the public defender's office, said Ben Stepp, an assistant federal public defender in Greenville.

The public defenders present the recommendations to the U.S. attorney's office, which looks at what other crimes a person was convicted of as well as his or her record in prison.

"We, the government, are not opposing the motions unless there is post-sentencing evidence that the defendant is either a danger to the community or for some other reason just flat doesn't qualify," said Nancy Wicker, a spokeswoman for South Carolina's U.S. attorney.

In December, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to allow about 19,500 federal prison inmates to seek reductions in their crack cocaine sentences.

The decision follows years of criticism about how severely the federal court system treated those convicted of crack cocaine offenses as opposed to those convicted of other drug crimes.

The sentences for crack can be three to six times longer than those for powder cocaine, according to a sentencing commission report.

In Greenville, the federal public defender's office has handled at least two-dozen requests since March 3 and only one inmate has been denied a sentence reduction, Mr. Stepp said.

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charlie-D
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charlie-D 04/08/08 - 08:42 pm
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mtnman, I have yet to see

mtnman, I have yet to see shivas put anyone in "their" place!

charlie-D
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charlie-D 04/08/08 - 08:45 pm
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also, mtnman, if you check, I

also, mtnman, if you check, I believe you will find that crack is the drug of choice of black americans who are low on the socio/economic scale, so what's your point.

CoachBishop
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CoachBishop 04/09/08 - 01:10 am
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Crack was devasting to the

Crack was devasting to the Black community not cocaine. We alll know that they are one and the same, but something had to be done to stop the chaos. I laughed at Dave Chappelle when he portrayed a crack addict, because as a black man I knew of family members and neighborhood members who told the same stories of the walking dead. The Justice Dept's stand was right on point. Don't be forgiving, because the dealers were murders and incarceration saved lives.

aikshop1
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aikshop1 04/09/08 - 04:37 am
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PatriciaThomas, you know you

PatriciaThomas, you know you are a closet crackhead with internet access!!!

got-away
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got-away 04/09/08 - 08:50 am
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the real matter is not which

the real matter is not which drug is the worst, it's about which criminal is costing the state and federal government the most money to incarcerate. they have not formed a new found love for crack abusers or dealers, they have just figured out that locking them up, especially the abusers, is very costly and not very effective. i live in atlanta but i'm from augusta. there was an article in sundays paper about this very matter, but it wasn't crime specific. they are looking for many different ways to free criminals to save money. check ajc.com.

mable8
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mable8 04/09/08 - 05:57 pm
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Instead of belaboring the

Instead of belaboring the fact that drug addiction is not good for the individual or society, ask YOURSELF what are YOU going to do about combating the problem? It is a SOCIAL problem that afflicts anyone, regardless of whether they are pea green, lilac, or peony purple--get off your duffs and quit handing out racial snippets. If you really care about your fellow man, you would be demanding that the government provide appropriate services to help those addicted rather than incarcerating them. Too, using some of that money from the government may be well spent in honest to goodness PREVENTION PROGRAMS IN ORDER TO PROTECT AND EDUCATE THE YOUNG. Successful programs, understanding, and truly caring will help reduce the criminal behaviors.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 09/03/08 - 07:28 pm
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toppergem, regarding your

toppergem, regarding your 2:03pm. I agree with you on that one. Would have saved my community a lot of grief and a lot of good people moving out.

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