Baltimore Sun: Top Maryland prosecutor ‘crying wolf’ on drug offenders

Many people convicted of drug offenses have not committed violent crimes, like murder or armed robbery. Most are low-level offenders who wouldn’t be in prison at all were it not for the difference in sentencing for crack cocaine offenses versus powder cocaine offenses.

As the Baltimore Sun reports, Maryland’s top federal prosecutor is “crying wolf” over a projected wave of so-called violent offenders flooding the state (after being released) under a new drug law that changes punishment for those convicted of selling crack cocaine – up until recently it was much harsher than it was for those convicted of selling powder cocaine – leading commentators to charge racial bias (those convicted of using or selling crack tend to be black, while those convicted of using or selling powder tend to be white).

Rather than crying wolf, as the Baltimore Sun argues, prosecutors should look at the conditions that put low-level offenders behind bars in the first place – federal prosecutors who were gunning to convict people of drug offenses that involved crack cocaine and tougher prison sentences.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Crack and the courts,” 11/30/11