Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crackdown on Crack Sentencing

For years there has been an upset in the legal community regarding the unequal treatment of sentencing amongst defendants caught with crack cocaine v. powder cocaine. The fact is that the punishment for consuming or selling crack cocaine is 100 times worse than that for powder cocaine. 
Many have linked the disparity to a deliberate prosecution to "round-up" those in the African American community. The stereotype has been that Americans plagued with a lesser economic disposition are more liable to use the less expensive crack cocaine than it's more expensive counterpart, powder cocaine. "What was clear was that the rules disproportionately affected African-Americans, leading civil rights leaders and other public officials to level harsh criticism against the criminal justice system. That's why in 2010 Congress passed and the Barack Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act which lowered the sentencing ratio of crack to powder crimes from 100:1 to 18:1." See "Inmates Set for Release After Changes in Crack Sentencing" by Gabriel Roxas
I will admit it is slightly embarrassing that we are using legal time to discuss the fairness of sentencing for drug dealers and crackheads but someones got to fight for them too, I guess. Also, the concern that should touch everyone at home is that the prisons are wasting capital on housing these offenders. There is even a advocacy group for this. see The Sentencing Project
Under the new Fair Sentencing Act, thousands of federal prisoners nationwide are now eligible for early release after changes in the way sentences for crack cocaine are calculated. The overall effect will be spread out over years, but almost 2,000 federal prisoners will be eligible for release on Tuesday. It could take longer for paperwork to go through and allow the inmates to walk free.
Now the U.S. Sentencing Commission is applying that law to past cocaine convictions. Officials estimate about 12,000 inmates could eventually benefit.

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