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Crack-Powder Cocaine

2014 Update:

In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. A year later, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to retroactively apply the new guidelines to those already sentenced. While this was a major step forward towards fairness, there is still a disparity here.

In August 2013, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder criticized the sentencing disparity, and offered new guidelines to prosecutors, however no indication that those incarcerated under the disparity would have their sentences shortened. More information is available from the Drug Policy Alliance here.

On December 19 2013, President Obama commuted sentences of 8 offenders, and cited the racially biased disparity in a reason he did so. However, there are still many incarcerated because of these policies. Read Eric E. Sterling's analysis here.

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On October 27, 2006, marking the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, a letter from over 150 professors of criminology, sociology, public policy and law was delivered to the leadership of the Senate and House Committees on the Judiciary. Organized by CJPF's Eric E. Sterling (who is teaching sociology at George Washington University part-time next Spring), the letter is at www.cjpf.org/professorsletter. Additional signatures from professors are being gathered. The updated letter will be submitted to the U.S. Sentencing Commission at its all-day hearing on November 14, 2006 on the crack cocaine - powder cocaine sentencing disparity.

The letter was released at a briefing for congressional staff organized by the Justice Roundtable, "The 20-year Legacy of Crack and Powder Cocaine Sentencing," featuring Lisa Rich, U.S. Sentencing Commission; Bradley Hayes, Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee for Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama); Jesselyn McCurdy, Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union; and Eric E. Sterling.
The CJPF white paper, Getting Justice Off Its Junk Food Diet, was also distributed.

The ACLU distributed its new paper, Cracks in the System: Twenty Years of the Unjust Federal Crack Cocaine Law, as well.

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 CJPF President Eric E. Sterling's white paper, Getting Justice Off Its Junk Food Diet, explains the adverse affect of the low mandatory minimum quantity triggers for federal cocaine prosecutions. - July 17, 2006

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Justice Roundtable Asks Congress to Address the Disparity in Crack and Powder Cocaine Mandatory Minimums - February 16, 2006

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Rangel Crack Amendment Will Refocus Federal Law Enforcement on High-level Cocaine Offenders - March 29, 1999 Press Release

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Independent Review of Department of Justice Drug Prosecutions Called For - November 6, 1995 Press Release

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U.S. Sentencing Commission Crack Cocaine Report: "A Disappointment" - March 2, 1995 Press Release 

 

Updated 2014