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Breaking: House Subcommittee Votes to Reduce Crack Cocaine Penalties to Powder Cocaine Level

Submitted by David Borden on
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), H.R. 3245
lead sponsor and long-time champion
for criminal justice reform
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security this afternoon unanimously approved H.R. 3245, the "Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2009." According to Families Against Mandatory Minimums:
The bill would remove references to "cocaine base" from the US Code, effectively treating all cocaine, including crack, the same for sentencing purposes. Original cosponsors of the bill include all Democratic members of the subcommittee and the sponsors of all other Democratic bills that address the cocaine sentencing disparity.
Click here for the full press release. Exciting times -- as I noted a few minutes ago when writing about another good vote that took place in Congress yesterday, eliminating the loss of financial aid penalty that exists for students convicted of drug possession. That one was part of a larger, high-priority bill that that committee is now sending to the full House of Representatives. Whether this standalone bill, coming out of a subcommittee, will get to that level is less certain. However, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, John Conyers (D-MI), is an ardent supporter, and the bill passed the subcommittee unanimously, meaning the Republicans on the subcommittee must have voted for it too. (The roll call isn't online yet.) So it is very encouraging nonetheless.

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