Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tucker: Austin's fate escapes many deserving it

Cynthia Tucker on Dallas Austin's luck, from the AJC: "Last week, Atlanta music producer Dallas Austin got lucky --- in the way that the wealthy and well-connected so often do. He was granted an immediate pardon by the ruler of Dubai after he was sentenced to four years in prison for entering the emirate in May with just over a gram of cocaine.

Austin has made plenty of money writing and producing hits for artists from Madonna to Janet Jackson. And he just happens to be a client of the same entertainment law firm that represents U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); while best known for his conservative politics, Hatch has also written and recorded patriotic and religious songs. The senator --- seen as an ally of Dubai because he defended its quest to manage some U.S. ports --- joined such celebrities as Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones in campaigning for leniency.

I'm delighted that Austin was freed and allowed to return home (where he was first seen publicly in church). I've never believed possession of small amounts of illegal narcotics is an offense worthy of years in prison --- here or abroad. I just wish that the influence brought to bear on Austin's behalf would be used to mitigate prison sentences for hundreds of thousands of Americans --- many of them black men --- who have been sent to prison for nonviolent drug offenses."


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