This disparity has often been called racist since it disproportionately imprisons blacks. So, the federal law still imposes a different and harsher sentence for crack cocaine possession than it does for powder cocaine possession, but the disparity is not nearly as great as under the 1986 act. Powder and crack cocaine differ in appearance, side effects, duration of effects, demographics and incarceration rates. A comprehensive examination of the 100to1 crack versus powder cocaine sentencing disparity under which distribution of just 5 grams of crack carries a. Similarly, those carrying ten grams of crack cocaine faced a tenyear. Since then the federal bureau of prisons began to have budget and overcrowding problems. Today, states maintain sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses. Powder cocaine causes a rush of energy and feelings of euphoria and happiness.
But the drugs differ from each other in a variety of ways. Apr 17, 2020 download page term paper on disparity in sentencing for crack vs. Case coincides with congressional push to repeal racially discriminatory sentencing scheme. In fact, the law probably made sense at the time, when a gram of crack did. Congress acts to reduce crackpowder cocaine sentencing. Mar 31, 2020 sentencing disparities between crack cocaine vs. A 2010 federal law rectified some, though not all, of the sentencing disparities. The 1986 law created a 100 to 1 disparity between the sentencing guidelines for crack and powder cocaine. The sentencing disparities between crack and cocaine attn. Some 2020 democratic candidate argue that the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, which now sits at 18to1. Crack cocaine sentencing laws in the adaa also included a fiveyear mandatory. Whites get probation, blacks get a decade behind bars. Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are sometimes referred to in research and other outlets simply as cocaine, but there is a big difference between the two. Why not go all the way and set sentences for the two forms of cocaine at a 1.
Federal crack cocaine sentencing the sentencing project. Fair sentencing act american civil liberties union. The sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Dec 27, 2008 germane to this discussion is an understanding of the often discussed 100. Why are crack cocaine sentences longer than those for powder. This report addresses disparities in cocaine sentencing in states and documents efforts at the federal and state level to correct these injustices. It is this ratio that has resulted in crack offenders spending decades in prison while powder cocaine offenders convicted of offenses involving the same weight often spend less than two years in prison. Because crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug, there should not be any disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine offenses the only truly fair ratio is 1. The disparity started in the 1980s, when crack cocaine started to ravish urban black communities in america.
Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, which is indigenous to south america. Crack cocaine, also known simply as crack or rock, is a free base form of cocaine that can be smoked. The stark difference in federal sentencing laws for possession of the two forms of the same drug has more to do with media mythology and political pressure than with public safety and health. The manual of adolescent substance abuse treatment calls it the most addictive form of cocaine. Sentencing commission calling for congress to change the crack cocaine law. The fsa changed this socalled 100toone disparity to a disparity of 18toone. Find out more about the differences between crack and powder cocaine and addiction treatment today. Furthermore, this law doesnt even go all the way in eliminating the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Prior to the enactment of the fsa, it took 100 times as much powder cocaine as crack cocaine to receive the same five, 10, or 20year mandatory minimum prison term. The court, however, opted to impose a lesser sentence of only 180 months 15 years, reflecting the combination of the two minimums for drugs and firearms offenses, respectively. Another difference between crack and cocaine relates to the high produced. In 2010 congress passed the fair sentencing act, which repealed the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession and reduced the sentencing disparity from 100.
They do produce similar effects and dangers, and addiction to either can be detrimental to ones health. Data show racial disparity in crack sentencing us news. Keith ellison spent 16 years as a trial lawyer dealing with hundreds of cases involving cocaine arrests. Powder cocaine after a decade of contentious debate regarding the federal sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, a number of significant initiatives to reform current policy have recently emerged. In response, the antidrug abuse act of 1986 included a provision that created the disparity between federal penalties for crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses, imposing the same penalties for the possession of an amount of crack cocaine as for 100 times the same amount of powder cocaine. The legislation also eliminates the mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine. Supreme court weighs 100to1 disparity in crackpowder.
Explain the crack powder cocaine sentencing disparity. In the mid 80s, congress passed the antidrug abuse act of 1986. Crack is highly, highly addictive unlike normal cocain. What is the chemical difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine that. The bill does not eliminate the disparity, but dramatically reduces it. Crack and cocaine also differ in the manner in which they are used. Under what is commonly referred to as the 100to1 cocaine sentencing disparity, it takes one hundred times as much powder cocaine as crack cocaine to trigger the federal mandatory minimums. In order to receive the same mandatory sentence for being in possession of crack vs.
On october 30, president clinton signed a bill that blocks the u. Regardless of changes in the federal law, a charge of crack or powder cocaine is a very serious charge. Jul 28, 2010 the us house of representatives wednesday approved a bill, sb 1789, that addresses one of the most glaring injustices of the american drug war. The judges reasoning was that, due in part to the infamous 100. Congress passed laws that created a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for the possession or trafficking of crack when compared to penalties for trafficking of powder cocaine, which had been widely criticized as discriminatory against minorities, mostly africanamericans, who were more likely to use crack than powder cocaine. For example, the possession of 2 ounces of crack cocaine carried a 10 year mandatory minimum jail sentence compared to 179 ounces of powder cocaine for the same penalty. Crack cocaine sentences have long been much more harsh than those for powder cocaine. Sociology 380 crime and deviance flashcards quizlet. To get a comparable sentence, a dealer selling powdered cocaine would have.
Established by the antidrug abuse acts of 1986 and 1988, the 100to1 ratio relates to the amount of crack versus powder cocaine necessary to trigger mandatory minimum prison sentences meaning that possession of five grams of crack cocaine would mandate the same minimum sentence as 500 grams of powder cocaine. Cracking the racial disparity for cocaine sentencing center. Aug 03, 2010 support for reducing the disparity with powder cocaine offenders increased with reports beginning in 2002 by the u. Under what is commonly referred to as the 100to1 cocaine sentencing disparity, it takes one hundred times as much powder cocaine as crack cocaine. Nov 02, 2007 a couple of years ago, we wrote a column about crack cocaine, which ended with a discussion of the federal sentencing guidelines for crack vs. Cocaine is typically snorted, and crack is typically smoked. This article was prepared by s 501c4 lobbying nonprofit, the drug reform coordination network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. Powder cocaine united states sentencing commission.
The difference between powder cocaine and crack cocaine. Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that typically comes in powder or solid form. The figures for the 6,020 powder cocaine cases are far less skewed. This disparity between crack and powder cocaine was driven by fear. Despite these differences, both drugs can have devastating effects on a persons health. New legislation would erase crackpowder cocaine disparity.
Crack and powder cocaine have similar pharmacological and physiological effects on the body, as major studies have shown us. This 100toone ratio was not the product of reasoned analysis of the relative. Under federal sentencing guidelines, a smalltime crack retailer caught selling 5 grams of crack cocaine receives the same prison sentence as a largescale powder cocaine dealer convicted of distributing 500g rams of powder cocaine. Why was the disparity recently reduced, and why were many people critical of it.
Nov 15, 2007 congress did a serious injustice when it imposed much tougher penalties on defendants convicted of selling the crack form of cocaine the kind most often used in impoverished, minority. There is no significant chemical differencecrack and powder cocaine are both forms of cocaine. The new law significantly reduces the cocaine sentencing quantity disparity from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1 by raising the quantity of crack cocaine necessary to trigger the five and tenyear mandatory minimum sentences first set in 1986. At the time, possession of crack cocaine resulted in penalties 100 times higher than possession of an equal amount of the powdered form. Drugs, disparity, and judicial sentencing discretion findlaw. After a decade of contentious debate regarding the federal sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, a number of significant initiatives to reform current policy have recently emerged. The commission establishes sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts. The us sentencing commission provided this analogy in 1997 to support equalizing penalties for crack and powder cocaine. The fair sentencing act amends existing laws by increasing the amounts of crack that trigger these penalties, from five grams to 28 grams for fiveyear minimum sentences and from 50 grams to 280 grams for tenyear minimum sentences. The amount of powder cocaine necessary to trigger the sentence is still five kilos. While they are both different chemical forms of cocaine, they differ in how they are made, how they are abused, their cost, dangers, effects, and more. Sentencing commission amendments to equalize the penalties for crack and powder cocaine from taking effect see congress nixes amendments to sentencing guidelines on cocaine, money laundering, 58 crl 1086, october 25, 1995.
Crack cocain has barely any similarities to its powder form other than the name and the fact its a stimulant. Cocaine is generally found in white powder form, and crack is found in a rock form that is generally white, cream, tan, or light brown. Jun 11, 2016 in the mid 80s, congress passed the antidrug abuse act of 1986. Crack and powder cocaine sentences may equalize law blog. The federal crack statute was passed during the height of the. Both crack and powder cocaine can lead to a host of physical, psychological and behavioral problems, including addiction.518 1144 1526 1204 662 320 177 805 64 1430 1205 1147 171 384 582 174 1350 780 1095 1309 995 1447 100 285 1147 1008 146 1404 820 875 117 508