Clemency for Crack

President Obama is working with Eric Holder to grant clemency to a number of individuals convicted of drug offenses, that they feel were unfair and racially biased. In some cases they report the penalty for crack cocaine was many times that of regular cocaine and the people sentenced were predominantly black.

The plan is to give a blanket presidential pardon to those individuals who they believe were over-sentenced. The idea has not been implemented, since the details are being hashed out. The suggestion is to extend the pardon to those who have served at least ten years of their sentence and who have had no gang connections. No one is certain how many people will be released if it is enacted.

I have a couple problems with this plan. It is racially motivated micromanagement. These two government officials have scanned American history and policy for racial inequalities. The problem with reverse engineering this way is it overlooks the historic reasons for the legislation. Lawmakers and society as a whole were desperate to stem the tide on crack and the outrageous amount of violence that came with it. This was the reason the penalties were significantly more severe than for regular cocaine.

This is the activity we ask governments to undertake. We ask them to make a positive difference in the face overwhelming evil. We need them to take on monsters through the corporate strength of society which individuals are too weak to oppose. Overlooking this history, and in fact, the whole movement towards legalizing drugs, is the result of failing to learn the lessons of the past and setting ourselves up to relive them.


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