Just days after Attorney General Michael Mukasey urged lawmakers to block the implementation of new retroactive federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenses, Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa, chairman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which authorized the retroactive rule, will testify before lawmakers today.
Hinojosa will testify at a hearing on “Federal Cocaine Sentencing Laws: Reforming the 100-to-1 Crack/Powder Disparity” before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs this afternoon. Sen. Joe Biden, who filed a bill that would end the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences, will preside.
In December, in reaction from a number of U.S. Supreme Court decisions giving judges greater discretion in going outside the federal guidelines in sentencing cases, including those involving crack cocaine, the Commission voted to retroactively lower the penalty range prescribed by the guidelines for crack offenses, effective March 3, 2008.
Others scheduled to testify this afternoon include: United States District Judge Reggie B. Walton, a member of the Federal Judicial Conference’s Criminal Law Committee; Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Oklahoma U.S. Attorney John Richter; and James Felman co-chairman of the Sentencing Committee of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section.