Ted's turn

By AL GIORDANO  |  August 26, 2009

"If the safety valve went through," he says, "it would allow the judge to resentence me under the guidelines, which could give me a 14-month reduction. 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," O'Rourke says. "It would help me out by 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."

The conference committee is in recess until July 18. When it begins its deliberations again, FAMM'S Domenica Piscitelli hopes its members will realize the retroactive safety valve would do nothing more than give non-violent offenders the same rights as prisoners doing time for far more serious crimes. "Rapists and murders are given good time and are released," she points out.

Piscitelli's son is serving a mandatory sentence for dealing cocaine.

"When he's reviewed every six months, they look at his sheet and they tell him, point blank, that he does not belong there," she says. "I'm not saying that my son and the rest of them did not do something wrong or that they should be penalized. But the sentence should fit the crime."

Ted Kennedy laments that we're "putting the wrong people" in prison cells that should be caging violent offenders. But as a leading member of the conference committee, only Kennedy may have the power to get them out.

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