Can We Fix the Crack/Cocaine Sentencing Disparity Already?

Our good friend and occasional Speakeasy contributor Eric Sterling has a superb op-ed in the LA Times on the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity.

He says it’s about time to fix the darned thing. It’s an opinion to which Sterling is certainly entitled. He actually wrote the law.

Congress should do what it tried to do in 1986 — make the Justice Department focus exclusively on high-level cases because state and local law enforcement cannot. There are three elements to fix the problem: Raise the quantity triggers for all drugs to realistic levels for high-level traffickers, such as 50 or 100 kilos of cocaine, and end the crack/powder imbalance; Require the attorney general to approve prosecution of any case involving less than 50 kilos of cocaine; Analyze federal drug cases district by district to identify agents and prosecutors who waste their time and our money. If only high-level dealers were being prosecuted by the feds, no one would have cause to complain about the race of the defendants.

Drug policy reform would go a lot faster if there weren’t so many different harmful laws to be changed. I bet we could have fixed the sentencing disparity years ago if it weren’t for that stupid HEA Drug Provision.


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