U.S. House approves bill to eliminate differences in crack cocaine sentences.
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed overwhelmingly a bill to permanently eliminate the sentencing disparities in crack cocaine and powder sentences.
This policy has resulted in the disproportionate imprisonment of African Americans.
The House passed the EQUAL Act by a vote of 361-66, a bipartisan vote.
Now, they will send the bill to the Senate, where criminal justice advocates believe it can pass. The Justice Department also supported the bill.
The 1980s war-on-drugs policies are what led to the disparities in crack and powder cocaine.
1986 saw Congress pass a law establishing mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking offenses. This treated crack and cocaine powder offenses with a 100:1 ratio.
A person convicted of selling 5 grams of crack cocaine would be treated the same way as someone who sells 500 grams of powder cocaine.
In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act reduced the 100-to-1 ratio to 18:1.
Congress passed the First Step Act in 2018 under President Donald Trump’s presidency.
It aimed to allow more crack cocaine offenders at lower levels to take advantage of the lesser sentence ratio and retroactively reduce their sentences.
However, earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled low-level crack cocaine offenders couldn’t retroactively request their sentences decreased.
U.S. U.S. USA Today and Ashbury Park Press conducted an investigation. It found that Black drug dealers and users were more often arrested and sentenced to harsher sentences than those who are accused of other drug crimes.
The EQUAL Act would be law if it became law. It would eliminate the crack-cocaine gap and retroactively apply for those who have been sentenced.
Kevin Ring, President of FAMM, stated that “Thirty-five years of the most discriminatory federal policy is sufficient.” He also opposed mandatory minimum sentencing.
Devika Chowdhury – She is a professional news editor, writer, and blogger for the last 10 years. She is working with NewsGater as an off-beat news editor cum writer.