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July 2006
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Slight movement on the Crack-Powder disparity

An incoherent report by Stefanie Hausner in the Washington Times about a half-assed measure in Congress to bring us to a slightly improved situation regarding institutionalized racism by the government… but I guess we should be pleased.

A bipartisan group of four U.S. senators, all former state attorneys general, presented legislation yesterday to reduce the disparity in prison sentences for those caught with crack cocaine and those caught with powdered cocaine. That disparity in federal sentencing guidelines is currently 100-to-1. It would be reduced to 20-to-1 under a measure introduced yesterday by Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ken Salazar of Colorado. The Drug Sentencing Reform Act of 2006 would reduce the disparity by decreasing the amount of crack cocaine necessary to trigger the mandatory minimum sentencing …

[Should read “increasing the amount”]

…and introducing a “modest increase on powders,” said Mr. Sessions, who presented a similar Senate bill in 2001.

[He means a modest decrease of the amount of powder necessary to trigger…]

Currently, possession of 500 grams of powdered cocaine results in a five-year mandatory minimum sentencing. It takes only 5 grams of crack cocaine to warrant a similar sentence.
The senators propose shifting the sentencing amounts to 400 grams of powder and 20 grams of crack cocaine. The bill would bring about “tougher sentences on the worst and most violent drug offenders and less severe sentences on lower-level, nonviolent offenders,” said Mr. Sessions, adding that the measure would shift the emphasis in sentencing from drug quantity to the type of criminal act committed in distributing drugs. “This does not signal that we are going soft on crime,” Mr. Sessions told reporters yesterday.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the effort. Much in the same way that I’d be grateful to learn that my neighbor who beats his wife is considering not beating her on weekends.

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