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Key House Committee Votes To End Crack Cocaine Sentencing Disparity

Landmark Bill Will Now Head To House Floor

WASHINGTON -
The
House Judiciary Committee today voted to pass a bill that would
eliminate the discriminatory disparity between crack and powder cocaine
sentencing under federal law. Today’s vote clears the way for H.R.
3245, the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2009, to be voted on by
the full House. The bill removes references to “cocaine base” from the
U.S. federal code and takes the welcome step of removing the five-year
mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine.
 
More
than two decades ago, based on assumptions about crack which are now
known to be false, heightened penalties for crack cocaine offenses were
adopted. Sentences for crack are currently equivalent to the sentences
for 100 times the amount of powder cocaine, and the impact falls
disproportionately on African Americans.
 
The following can be attributed to Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislation Office:
 
“For
over 20 years, the disparity between crack and powder cocaine
sentencing has been a blight on our justice system. Years of medical
and legal research have shown no appreciable difference between crack
and powder cocaine, and no justification for allowing a vast sentencing
gap between them. Policymakers across the ideological spectrum,
including former President George W. Bush, have spoken out against its
inherent injustice. This historic legislation is long overdue.
Congress, today, is one step closer to ending the crack-powder
disparity and unjust mandatory minimum sentences.”
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