Alert: Tell Congress to Repeal Unjust Crack Cocaine Sentences

One of the most glaring injustices in US drug policy is the infamous crack/powder sentencing disparity, in which possession of a mere five grams of crack cocaine draws a five-year mandatory minimum sentence under federal law. It takes 100 times as much powder cocaine, 500 grams, to get the same sentence. The law has been applied in a racially disparate fashion since it was enacted 23 years ago, but reform efforts have mostly stalled.

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Until this year, that is. Last July the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives approved H.R. 3245, the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2009. In October, a similar bill was introduced in the Senate, S. 1789.

Please call your US Representative and your two US Senators to urge their strongest possible support for the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act. The number for the Capitol Switchboard and your legislators is (202) 224-3121, or click here to look them up online. Whether you call today or not, please use our online form at this web page to email your Rep. and Senators too.

Visit the Crack the Disparity Coalition for further information about this issue and campaign. Following are some talking points from the Coalition to help with your call or to learn more:

Please support and cosponsor H.R. 3245, the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2009. This legislation will:

  • Restore federal law enforcement priorities. When Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and 1988, the intended targets of mandatory minimums were "serious" and "major" traffickers. In practice, the law failed to live up to its promise. Mandatory penalties for crack cocaine offenses have been applied most often to individuals who are low-level participants in the drug trade, who comprise more than 60% of federal crack defendants.
  • Save federal tax dollars and ease prison overcrowding. The Federal Bureau of Prisons estimates it costs $25,895 a year to house each prisoner. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, eliminating the sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine would reduce the prison population by over 13,000 in 10 years.
  • Counter the perception of unfairness in the criminal justice system. African Americans account for 81.8% of defendants sentenced to federal prison for crack cocaine offenses. Crack cocaine sentences average 37 months longer than sentences for powder cocaine. This disparity has contributed to a damaging perception of race-based unfairness in our criminal justice system.
  • Treat two forms of the same drug the same. Crack cocaine is pharmacologically the same as powder cocaine. Myths about crack cocaine, that have been dispelled since the sentencing law was passed 23 years ago, contributed to these out of proportion penalties.

Click here for our archive of reporting and announcements on this issue.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Response received!

I sent the form letter that was provided by your site to my state Senator a few days ago & was pleasantly surprised that I received a response. Here's a copy/paste of my Senators email to me.....

Dear Ms. **********:

Thank you for contacting me about the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine. I appreciate hearing from you.

Like you, I am concerned about the disparity in sentencing for crimes involving crack and powder cocaine. This disparity has unfairly affected minorities, and should be addressed. Following action in the federal courts that has moved toward an end this disparity, the Senate should also consider further steps to reduce the disparity and possibly eliminate it.

As a U.S. Senator, I am working to address the affects of illegal drugs in America by supporting sensible law enforcement initiatives and proven prevention and treatment programs. Rest assured, should legislation related to the crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity come before the full Senate, I will keep your concerns in mind.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If I can be of service in the future, please be in touch.

I hope all is well in ********.

Sincerely,
Patty Murray
United States Senator"

I'm just posting this to let anyone with doubts out there know that our emails do get read, at least by Senator Murray, so please keep sending them in!

Shelly

ITS UNFAIR AND UNJUST LETS

ITS UNFAIR AND UNJUST LETS MAKE IT FAIR AND TRY TO HELP THOSE SELLING THAT STUFF LIKE JOBS FOR EX-FELONS SO THEY WONT RESULT IN OLD AND BADHABITS.LETS SHOW THEM THAT THERE IS A LIFE AFTER INCARCERATION

Humble apologies for promoting Cocaine Army Macon Carrington

Most humble apologies for recently promoting info on Youtube Video Cocaine Army by Macon Kerrington. I found another video where Mr. Carrington has alot of possible truth about ritual child abuse by the elite such as possible truth of Cocaine Army and then he goes on to spew a racist homophobic tirade and totally lost me completely. The non racist non homophobic info is better learned on sentencing disparities,ritual abuse as well as secret government drug running is from Cathy O'Brien/Phillips and Mark Phillips book Trance Formation. This will most likely be my last post. Peace all and hoping for happy holidays to all.

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