Obama Supports Ending the Cocaine Sentencing Disparity

Good news from Washington, D.C.:

Justice Department officials this morning endorsed for the first time proposed legislation that would eliminate vast sentencing disparities for possession of powdered versus rock cocaine, an inequality that civil rights groups say has disproportionately affected poor and minority defendants.

Newly appointed Criminal Division chief Lanny A. Breuer told a Senate Judiciary Committee panel this morning that the Obama administration would support bills to equalize punishment for offenders accused of possessing the drug in either form, fulfilling one of the president's campaign pledges.

Breuer explicitly called on Congress to act this term to "completely eliminate" the sentencing disparity. [Washington Post]

The cocaine sentencing disparity has been a festering indefensible abomination for decades, and now that we're finally on track to fix this mess once and for all, I don't hear anyone complaining. It's great that the new administration is following through on their promises to support sentencing reform, but it's also just appalling to think that it's taken this long to get any momentum going towards fixing this notorious injustice. There was never anything to be afraid of.

Fixing dumb laws is the duty of the Congress and they'd be hard pressed to find a dumber one than this. Don't make this more complicated than it has to be. Just fix it already.

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He didn't say how

I believe that this will result in higher sentences for powder cocaine busts.

Difficult to justify based on the facts and science.

Editorial
Fairness in Drug Sentencing

Published: NY Times April 30, 2009

Lanny A. Breuer, the new chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, told lawmakers that it was time to revisit the crack/cocaine disparity.
Mr. Breuer argued that the sentencing disparity was “difficult to justify based on the facts and science, including evidence that crack is not an inherently more addictive substance than powder cocaine.” The law was especially problematic, he continued, “because a growing number of citizens view it as fundamentally unfair.”
Extending his logic based on facts and science (as of course logic should be based upon)wouldn't you think that they would get that the federal law concerning Marijuana was especially problematic because a growing number of citizens view it as fundamentally unfair also?.

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