Congress Passes Fair Sentencing Act; Lower Crack-Cocaine Disparity Heads to Obama for Signature

Congress Passes Fair Sentencing Act; Lower Crack-Cocaine Disparity Heads to Obama for Signature

Here’s an incremental, but important victory for criminal justice, as the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity has shrunk:

Congress has changed a quarter-century-old law that has sent tens of thousands of blacks to prison for crack cocaine convictions while giving far more lenient treatment to those, mainly whites, caught with the same amount of the drug in powder form […]

The measure alters a 1986 law, enacted at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, under which a person convicted of crack cocaine possession gets the same mandatory prison term as someone with 100 times the same amount of powder cocaine.

The legislation reduces that ratio to about 18-to-1.

The House passed this today under suspension rules, meaning that over 290 members voted for it. The Senate had passed it earlier. It now goes to the President.

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