The reason for such a mass clemency?
President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder believe that the long sentences that many crack cocaine dealers received, mainly in the 1990's, were discriminatory since the majority of those involved in the distribution of crack were young black men.
However, the federal government adopted tough mandatory sentencing guidelines in response to the crack cocaine epidemic that once gripped the nation's inner cities and resulted in unprecedented violence.
In 2010, Congress voted to reduce those sentencing guidelines for future convictions.
But, that was not good enough for Obama.
The president wants to basically make the new guidelines retroactive to all of those who were convicted and sentenced many years ago...by executive order.
The New York Times reported the recent comments of Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, who said:
There are more low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who remain in prison, and who would likely have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of precisely the same offenses today," Mr. Cole said at a New York State Bar Association event. "This is not fair..."
Not everyone in the Obama administration is on board with what would amount to roughly 12,000 drug dealers suddenly being released back into the communities in which they profited from selling poison, often to children.
Federal prosecutors sent their boss, Eric Holder a letter denouncing the move.
The letter from the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys stated:
In the 1980s, our country underwent a crime epidemic that took root, in significant measure, because of the proliferation of crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and PCP in communities across America. Violence became rampant thirty years ago, the murder rate was twice what it is now, and the overall crime rate was not far behind. Bi-partisan majorities in Congress took action. They passed mandatory sentencing laws to combat the most pernicious of crimes.
As a result, we now have more uniformity in sentencing, and most importantly, crime is now half of what it was in the era before mandatory minimum sentences took hold. The principal beneficiaries of this massive crime reduction are those who were disproportionately crime victims in the past--minority groups, particularly those in the inner cities. When crime starts to rise, as it did before mandatory minimum sentencing and will again if we tear down the statutes that have helped keep us safe--minorities, disproportionately, will be the victims. The rest of our citizens won't be far behind.
At the end of last year, Obama either pardoned or commuted the sentences of several drug dealers.