For Immediate Release

Lawyers’ Committee Pleased with Passing of Fair Sentencing Act of 2010

WASHINGTON - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law applauds the historic passage of The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 in the House yesterday. With President Obama's signature pending, this serves as a substantial step in addressing the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing. The Act will reduce the sentencing disparity ratio from 100:1 to 18:1. While not an optimal result, the reduction in the unacceptable ratio, which lasted over two decades, should not go unnoted.

The Lawyers' Committee, along with a number of civil rights organizations and advocates, has worked tirelessly to promote a change in the longstanding 100:1 ratio. The law, as it stood, had a disproportionately negative impact on African Americans and subsequently decreased confidence in the criminal justice system because of the perception of racial bias. "As a civil rights organization at the forefront of racial justice and economic opportunity, we believe The Fair Sentencing Act serves as a necessary step in the journey toward justice and equality for all," said Lawyers' Committee Executive Director Barbara Arnwine. "We are pleased that besides mitigating the disparity, the bill will eliminate the simple possession mandatory minimum sentencing and focus federal resources on the prosecution of major and serious traffickers."

"The fight is not over," added Lawyers' Committee Public Policy Director Tanya Clay House. "It remains imperative that the disparity is completely eliminated. The Lawyers' Committee will continue to insist upon this effort to promote equal opportunity and restore integrity to the criminal justice system."

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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment discrimination, voting, education and environmental justice. For more information about the LCCRUL, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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