FROM Margaret Colgate Love
Mandatory Sentencing in the War on Drugs Federal laws passed in the 1980's provided the same prison sentence for dealing in five grams of crack cocaine as for 500 grams of powder, a ratio of 100-to-1. But it turned out that the so-called "crack epidemic" never happened, and the Journal of the American Medical Association now says that crack is not more addictive than powder or more likely to lead to violence after all. But crack is used more often by African Americans, which means that federal prisons are crowded with black prisoners doing more time than whites for essentially the same crimes. Two weeks ago, the House and the Senate allowed new guidelines that make sentences for crack commensurate with those for powder cocaine. Should the change be made retroactive? Would 20,000 criminals be released all at once? We'll hear about the ongoing debate at the US Sentencing Commission.
Bush Commutes Libby's Sentence The sentencing judge in the Lewis "Scooter" Libby case is a hard-line conservative appointed by President Bush. He said the evidence of felony crimes by Libby was "overwhelming," and gave him 30 months in prison. Yesterday, a three-judge panel ruled that Libby's sentence could not be delayed. The Bureau of Prisons had assigned him a number. But five hours later, President Bush commuted what he called an " excessive " sentence. Though he said he "respected" the jury's felony verdict, today said he would not rule out a full pardon for the Vice President's former top aide. There's no doubt the President has the power, but legal experts disagree on the way he's using it. So far he's used clemency less than any president in the past 100 years. Do some criminals outside politics deserve official forgiveness?
Why Don't Facts Matter? "Fake News" may have a long history, but social media and 21st Century politics have brought it front and center. One reason for its appeal and its power is the tendency of so many people to cling to their beliefs — even when confronted with contradictory evidence. Today, another look at the Emotional States of America.