In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs yesterday, Assistant United States Attorney General Lanny Breuer declared that “Congress’s goal should be to completely eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine.” This is the first time that the Department of Justice has supported equalization of cocaine sentencing. Noting that a complete end to the sentencing disparity cannot occur without Congressional action, Mr. Breuer offered hope for defendants currently facing sentencing for crack cocaine offenses:
[W]e recognize that federal courts have the authority to sentence outside the guidelines in crack cases or even to create their own quantity ratio. Our prosecutors will inform courts that they should act within their discretion to fashion a sentence that is consistent with the objectives of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and our prosecutors will bring the relevant case-specific facts to the courts’ attention.