Debra J. Saunders
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What is more, the commission found in 2002 that that largest portion of crack offenders -- 55 percent -- were street-level dealers, while the largest group of powder cocaine offenders -- 33 percent -- were couriers and mules. I'm not saying they shouldn't go to prison, but that the feds should focus on putting dangerous criminals behind bars, not these losers.

Eric Sterling, who as a congressional staffer helped write the draconian 1986 drug-abuse law and later started the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation as penance, noted that the downside to critics focusing on the crack-powder disparity as a "civil rights complaint" is that they neglect the larger problem -- cocaine prosecutions too often target small-time criminals when "the feds should be going after high-level people, the multi-kilo multi-ton traffickers" -- the thugs who have private armies, launder barrels of money and generally endanger all of society.

As a former federal judge, Mukasey should have more faith in his erstwhile brethren. As Sterling noted, "Judges aren't going to just let dangerous people out" -- not when they can turn down petitions filed by the rare drug lord who comes before their bench.

"What passes for a drug kingpin in 99 percent of the cases is nothing more than a young man who can't even afford a lawyer when he's hauled into court," a frustrated U.S. District Court Judge Patrick Murphy of East St. Louis told "60 Minutes" in 2004. "I've seen very few drug kings."

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Debra J. Saunders


 
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