A Quick Friday Round-up.
- Congress put into effect lower federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenders — and considering applying the lower sentences retroactively —– which the Department of Justice is none too happy about. Critics of the old guidelines took issue with the fact that black people made up 80 percent of all federal convictions for crack (generally considered a poor people’s drug) and that crack convictions carried dramatically longer federal sentences than cocaine in its powder form. Some judges said the guidelines tied their hands in meting out fair sentences (crack sentences, even on the state level, are often as long as sentences for homicide).
- American Gangster, a tiny little movie with a no-name cast that opens today (but maybe you’ve heard of it, anyway?), is based on a really good profile from 2000 in New York magazine.
- Not timely, but another really good New York feature (what’s up with these cats lately?) on Khalil Islam, who served for 22 years for the murder of Malcolm X, which he probably didn’t commit. Islam says Malcolm was a huge Hegel fan and has been posthumously made “into a cartoon.”
- A Philly judge reduced the charges against a man who allegedly raped a prostitute to “theft of services.” No, seriously.
- Genarlow Wilson, convicted for statutory rape for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old schoolmate when he was 17— is still pretty fresh out of jail, and talking about his ordeal. Over a month ago, Slate cited the case in wondering whether we should re-think the way we deal with the age of sexual consent.
- Stephen Colbert isn’t allowed to run in the South Carolina primaries as planned. Clearly, people don’t really want change!