Reggie Walton: The Federal Judge Who Dropped the Hammer on Lewis "Scooter" Libby Explains His Crusade against Crack Sentencing Laws

By Wright, Kai | Colorlines Magazine, May-June 2008 | Go to article overview

Reggie Walton: The Federal Judge Who Dropped the Hammer on Lewis "Scooter" Libby Explains His Crusade against Crack Sentencing Laws


Wright, Kai, Colorlines Magazine


In 2007, the U.S. Sentencing Commission shortened average sentences for crack offenders by two to three years and cleared almost 20,000 federal prisoners to petition for that reduction. You're known as a hard guy on the bench, particularly on drugs. And you served in the drug policy office of the first George W. Bush administration. What are you doing advocating for these sentence reductions? Our sentencing structure has to be fundamentally fair and--maybe just as important--perceived to be fundamentally fair. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in our society, especially people of color, who feel that the sentencing structure as it relates to crack cocaine and as it compares to powder cocaine is not fair. As a result, I've seen jurors who refused to serve. I've seen jurors who, despite the strength of the government's case, would not convict. I don't think it's helpful for our culture or our community if you have a sizable number of people who feel that aspects of the criminal justice system are unfair. That ends up tainting the entire process.

You talk about perceptions, but do you think in fact it is skewed racially? I do not believe there was an intent to target African Americans. Clearly, there was a desire to impact a problem that at that time, back in the mid '80s, was in fact having a severe impact on the African-American community. There also was a belief, which has proven to be untrue, that crack cocaine had different chemical qualities that made it more addictive than powder cocaine and that it had a greater impact on fetuses. It was because of that that it was felt that there should be a difference in the sentencing. [One gram of crack cocaine is treated in federal law as 100 grams of powdered cocaine.]

When did you look up and say, "Hey, there's something wrong here with the way we're working this."? I felt a concern about the disparity when I was on the local court. I had jurors express concerns about the fairness of the sentencing structure, even though they were sitting in the local court and you didn't have that disparity in play. It became a lot more pronounced to me once I came over here to the federal court in 2001, because I was now actually dealing with situations where I saw the disparity in play. I'm not suggesting that people who sell drugs don't cause harm to communities and therefore should not be punished. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Reggie Walton: The Federal Judge Who Dropped the Hammer on Lewis "Scooter" Libby Explains His Crusade against Crack Sentencing Laws
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.