Friday, July 28, 2006

Legislators seek to close divide on crack and powder cocaine penalties

This is long overdue. A bi-partisan group of Senators, all of them former state's Attorney Generals, have introduced a bill to eliminate the gross disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and the traditional powered coke. Born at the height of frenzy over the "crack epidemic" and the legislative love affair with mandatory sentencing designed to make candidates appear to be "tough on drugs", this gap has been ignored for all too long.

The fact of the matter is, there is no real difference between crack and powder cocaine. It's the same drug but crack is cheaper and was associated more with the black community. It has also resulted in draconian sentencing for relatively mild drug offenses, mainly within the black community -- although its proponents deny any racial bias to the law.

It's the not the first time some brave legislators have attempted to address this injustice. They have failed in the past to crack the overwhelming fear on Capitol Hill of appearing "soft on drug crimes" but one lives in hope that this time common sense and humanity will prevail.


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