New Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Crack Cocaine Now in Effect

New federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenses went into effect Monday, a week after the US Sentencing Commission promulgated them. The commission acted on a temporary basis to implement the Fair Sentencing Act, which was passed into law last summer. It will vote in May to make the changes permanent.

The Fair Sentencing Act was passed in the face of growing uneasiness over racial disparities in federal drug sentences. From the 1980s until the act was passed, people caught with as little as five grams of crack cocaine faced mandatory minimum five-year prison sentences, while people caught with powder cocaine had to be caught with 500 grams before being hit with the mandatory minimum. More than 80% of federal crack prosecutions were aimed at blacks, even though more whites than blacks used crack.

Under the new law, it will take 28 grams of crack to trigger the mandatory minimum five-year sentence. Under the old law, 50 grams of crack earned a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence; under the new law, the threshold rises to 280 grams. That means the old 100:1 sentencing disparity has been reduced to 18:1.

That's not enough for groups like the November Coalition and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, which have fought for years for federal drug sentencing reform. Still on the agenda for reformers is eliminating the remaining sentencing disparity and making the law retroactive to benefit people already serving draconian federal crack sentences.

It's not all good news. The new guidelines will also add months to some drug offender sentences. "Aggravating factors" such as intimidating girlfriends or elderly family members to sell drugs could earn drug gang leaders extra prison time. On the other hand, some low level offenders who were intimidated into participating in drug sales could see months shaved off their sentences.

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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"The commission acted on a

"The commission acted on a temporary basis to implement the Fair Sentencing Act, which was passed into law last summer. It will vote in May to make the changes permanent."

Umm. Why should this commission have the option/right/duty/whatever to VOTE on something congress already made law of?  This commission needs to put their ego in check and just do what congress said.  This is just another example of why this draconian mockery of what used to be a free nation needs its government removed and replaced.

so TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

having been busted in 1994, albeit, for a difn "substance," ... i was shocked, dismayed, disgusted, exasperated, ... disbelieved when i read (having checked out from the local lending library) entire the U.S. Fair Sentencing Act ... henceforth, spent time to write EVERY state and federal legislature representative for Alabama (where resided at the time).

Also, observed incredulously the racketeering ... quid pro quo, goings on in the "good ol' boy" network -- alive and well in alabama ... reprehensible

each and every one of us need to SPEAK UP and continue doing so .. we KNOW that eventually, laws will be charged ... can't happen soon enough, u know?

regards, sun in alabama

crack

crack 50 grams should be given the same sentence as cocaine. 50grams.  why sentence crack harshly if crack and cocaine are basicly the same thing they both are cocaine. cost the same. the law i feel is unfair concerning the amount of grams. I FEEL EVERONE AFAIR JUSTICE WE ARE HUMAN NOT ANIMAL GOD CREATED US HAVE MERCY AS GOD HAS MERCY FOR US .WE ARE NOT THE DEVIL AS THE DEVIL CAME TO KILL AND STEAL  AGOOD NAME WE ARE NOT MURDERS  THAT THE DEVILS JOB. I CAN TELLYOU WE ARE NOT PERFECT BUT WE ARE ALL SINNERS AND CAN CHANGE OUR LIFE TO ABETTER ONE, IF GIVEN A CHANCE AND NOT TO BE LOCKED UP FOR A LONG TIME IN PRISON.  I BELIEVE 4 TO 5 IS REASONABLE FOR 55GRAMS OF CRACK OR COAINE. LORD FATHER GOD PLEASE HAVE MERCY ON THESE PEOPLE AND MY ONLY SON ;[

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drugs

why people that have 280 drugs let them out of jail just because there from the unaided states and people that are from Mexico  give them more year even do they found them with less drug why just because were different color from the outside but from the inside were all the same color.. there were this men that said he had drug and they gave him 10 years that  is just not fear at least give him 2 years or 1 thtas my opinion because all he polices don't have no idea how the family feels

Hey I was wondering will the

Hey I was wondering will the new law that just been passed will help inmates with life sentence for crack cocaine? I'm curious my mom is doing a life sentence in Fort Worth, Texas.

YOUR MOM

YOU WILL NEED TO CONTACT THE PROBATION OFFICE IN THE CITY SHE WAS CHARGED IN AND ASKED THEM TO PULL HER CASE, MY FRIEND FELL IN THE GUIDELINES OF 10 TO LIFE, THEY SAY IF THEY FELL IN THE LIFE RANGE THAT THEY WOULDN'T QUALIFY, BUT I HAVE YOU TO KNOW THE JUDGE IS REVIEWING AND HOPEFULLY MY FRIEND WILL BE COMING HOME,  SO KEEP THE FAITH FOR YOUR MOM AND JUST TRY AND BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PUBLIC DEFENDERS OFFICE CALL AND ASK THEM QUESTION, DO THE SAME WITH THE PROBATION OFFICES AS WELL. IT WORKED FOR ME! THE PROBATION OFFICE AS WELL AS THE PUBLIC DEFENDERS OFFICE HAS BEEN SO HELPFUL TO US. GOOD LUCK! WILL KEEP YOU AND THE FAMILY IN PRAYER.

ON ONE SHOULD GET LIFE IN

ON ONE SHOULD GET LIFE IN PRISON  JUST FOR DRUGS . EVEN AMURDERER DONT  GET LIFE SOMETIMES EVEN GET OUT. OJ SIMSON SUPPOSELY MURDERED HIIS WIFE NICOLE SIMSON THE LAW IS NOT FAIR OR JUST THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT NEED TO BE LOCKED UP FOR ALONG TIME. JUST PRAY FOR YOUR MOM HAVE FAITH THAT THEY WILL LOWER SENTENCE

The time limit.

Is there a time limit as to when they are releasing these inmates?. My Son is sitting in the doing dead time. He Have children out here he need to be taking care of. To much stuff is going on in the for these kids to be without there Dad's in there life.

Myboy friend got 10 years for

Myboy friend got 10 years for 50 grams of crack will he ever get out he been locked up for 7 mos

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