Some activists have been reluctant to lobby for or against specific provisions of the Crime Bill, preferring instead to oppose the entire bill on principle. Others have viewed passage of the Crime Bill as inevitable in the current political climate and have chosen to focus their efforts on particular items like the safety valve, in order to help real people. An article by Al Giordano in the Boston Phoenix last July 1 lets us hear from one of those people:
Michael O'Rourke (not his real name), is serving a five year mandatory sentence in federal prison for attempting to buy marijuana from an undercover federal agent. O'Rourke was a taxpaying Boston-area resident for years. But when offered the opportunity to purchase 100 pounds of marijuana at a bargain price, he took the bait. Upon arriving at the scene of the transaction, O'Rourke was offered the opportunity to purchase a full 500 pounds. O'Rourke purchased nothing, but merely having discussed the possibility made him guilty of "conspiracy" to purchase 500 pounds, getting him a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, no parole.
"If the safety valve went through, it would allow the judge to resentence me under the [federal sentencing] guidelines, which could give me a 14-month reduction", explains O'Rourke. I'm doing 60 months. That's not bad, there are guys who are doing life for marijuana, so I guess I'm fortunate."
"The government claims the retroactive safety valve will cause them a lot of aggravation. It would help me out be giving me another hearing. The judge doesn't have to do anything; he could keep me in. But that's what judges are for. Sentencing guidelines take into account my conduct. I would get a certain amount of credit for taking responsibility for my crime. Normally, that would have saved me a year and a half, but I can't use it on a mandatory."
Next: Forfeiture Update