Senate Seeks to Lessen Crack, Cocaine Conviction Disparities

490

The U.S. Senate approved a bill to reduce the disparities in sentences given to people convicted of crack and powder cocaine charges last week. But according to BlackAmericaWeb.com, some legislators are questioning whether the bill fully addresses the problem.

“What we have is progress, it’s not justice,” Jennifer Bellamy, criminal justice legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told the Web site. There still is no reason to say that crack and cocaine are different.

A person convicted of crack possession receives the same mandatory jail sentence as someone with 100 times the amount of powder cocaine under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2009. However, crack is more popular in Black communities and the Fair Sentencing Act has landed a large number of African Americans in jail for longer periods of time.

Under the new bill, which was approved by a voice vote, the ratio would be reduced to 18-to-one. The Senate unanimously approved the bill and according to Bellamy, the move shows that Congress is ready to address various racial and economic disparities facing the country.

The ACLU will lobby House members to completely eradicate crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparities.