Senate Democats Balk at Administration Request, Unlikely to Harden Rules for Crack Offenders

Senate Democrats are rejecting Attorney General Michael Mukasey's request to change new sentencing guidelines for crimes involving crack cocaine.

New U.S. Sentencing Commission rules taking effect next month would let nearly 20,000 federal inmates seek reductions in their crack cocaine sentences. In testimony last week, Mukasey asked Congress to pass legislation by March 3 to prevent the release of some of those inmates.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and other Democrats said Mukasey's comments were designed to "raise fear" by suggesting falsely that 1,600 violent criminals would be released if Congress does not act.