The 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech” and the March on Washington started me thinking once again about the many young black men I send to prison for dealing drugs and devastating the lives of others in so doing. The black crack whore, pulled into the grimy world of prostitution by her addiction and the young black men who fueled it, and who hung herself in the cell adjacent to the courtroom where I sentenced her, plagues me still. My inability to speak the truth about these young men troubles me even more.
If he were alive today, and with the benefit of the 50 years of history that have unfolded since 1963, Dr. King could provide federal sentencing judges like me with an unmatched perspective backed up by unimpeachable integrity. In short, I wonder what specific advice Dr. King would have for me as I sentence young black drug dealers in 2013 and beyond? That is not an idle question.