Wednesday, 02 November 2011 14:47

Inmates Freed After Federal Crack Penalties Are Eased

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yellow 5 pill valium By JESSICA GRESKO and JOHN O'CONNOR Associated Press

diazepam epilepsy dose Antwain Black was facing a few more years in purchase valium Leavenworth for dealing crack. But on Tuesday, he returned home to valium racing heart Illinois, a free man.

Black, 36, was among the first of potentially thousands of inmates who are being released early from valium sizes federal prison because of an easing of the harsh penalties for crack that were enacted in the 1980s, when the drug was a terrifying new phenomenon in America's cities.

"I did more than enough time," Black said outside his family's Springfield, Ill., home, where family and friends had gathered to celebrate over dinner. "I feel like I can win this time. I'm a better man today than I was then."

The 1980s-era federal laws punished crack-related crimes much more severely than those involving powdered cocaine — a practice criticized as racially discriminatory because most of those convicted of crack offenses were black.

More recently, the penalties for crack were reduced to bring them more in line with those for powder, and Tuesday was the first day inmates locked up under the old rules could get out early.

Federal Prison Inmate Released Due To Change In Crack Penalties.

 Antwain Black, 36, talks about his freedom Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 in Springfield, Ill., after being released early from valium hjertebank Leavenworth Prison. Black was among the first of potentially thousands of inmates who are being released early from federal prison because of an easing of the harsh penalties for crack that were enacted in the 1980s, when the drug was a terrifying new phenomenon in America's cities. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Some 12,000 prisoners are expected to benefit from reduced sentences over the next several years, with an estimated 1,900 eligible for immediate release as of Tuesday. On average, inmates will get three years shaved off their sentences. The reductions do not apply to people found guilty of crack offenses under state laws.

Black said like many of his peers, he started smoking crack in high school and began selling it partly to support his habit. He said he was a low-level dealer and that he didn't realize the mandatory minimum sentence he faced when he pleaded guilty in 2003 and was given a 15-year prison term.

With changes in the law, good behavior and credit for time served in jail, he was freed from the cdc valium federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., after 8½ years locked up for the crime. His projected release had been Oct. 3, 2013.

"I didn't think it was fair and I still don't think it's fair now," Black said. "I know guys who aren't coming home, still, because of these laws that were placed upon a certain race of people," he said.

can valium be used for nausea Kentucky inmate Darryl Flood, 48, thought he would have to wait until 2013 to get out of prison, more than a decade after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack. But on Monday a judge approved his release two years ahead of schedule.

Susan Cardwell, his sister in Haymarket, Va., said she was expecting him to arrive on a bus on Wednesday. She said she cried after getting a call from his lawyer with the news.

"He wants to get out, get a job and get his life back together," she said in a telephone interview. "He says he'll work two jobs if he has to."

Under the old system, a person convicted of crack possession got the same mandatory prison term as someone with 100 times the amount of powdered cocaine. Five grams of crack, about the weight of five packets of Sweet N'Low, brought a mandatory five years; it took 500 grams of powder to get the same sentence.

The law was seen as racially unfair because blacks made up the majority of people convicted of crack crimes, while whites were more likely to be found guilty of offenses involving powdered cocaine.

In 2010, Congress reduced the disparity in sentences for future cases. Last summer, the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided to apply the measure to inmates doing time under the old rules.

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