IT'S NOT FAIR. IT'S NOT WORKING.
Americans believe in a system of justice where all individuals are treated fairly under the law. But mandatory minimum sentencing laws prohibit judges from considering all the facts in a criminal case when determining sentences. The result is one-size-fits-all justice that ignores defendants' life circumstances, criminal history and role in the offense.
The 1986 and 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Acts established excessive mandatory penalties for crack cocaine that were the harshest ever adopted for low-level drug offenses and created drastically different penalty structures for crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine, which are pharmacologically identical substances. The law has diverted precious resources away from prevention and treatment for drug users and devastated communities ripped apart by incarceration.
Today a new consciousness about the unfairness and ineffectiveness of harsh crack cocaine mandatory sentences has emerged among advocates, policymakers, judges and the United States Sentencing Commission. Explore this site to learn more about crack cocaine sentencing reform and how to end the sentencing disparity.
Crack Reform News
May 21, 2012 (stltoday.com)
Missouri Legislature approves change in crack cocaine sentencing
An effort to change the disparity between sentences for crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses has made it through the Missouri Legislature.
The legislation now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon for approval, but House leaders touted it as one of the major successes of the session.
The move to lessen the crack/powder disparity follows a report from The Sentencing Project last year. It showed that Missouri had the highest weight-based disparity between crack and powder cocaine charges at a 75-to-1 ratio.
May 4, 2012
Race and Justice News
Research: Historic Ruling in North Carolina Racial Justice Act Case
Research: Blacks Underrepresented on Detroit Juries
Collateral Consequences: Employers may not Deny Employment Based on a Conviction
Legislation: Federal "End Racial Profiling Act" Introduced
Legislation: CT Senate Passes Bill Strengthening State’s Racial Profiling Law
Legislation: Missouri Passes Bill Reducing Disparity Between Sentences for Crack Cocaine and Powdered Cocaine
Juvenile Justice: Debate Over Racial Disparities in Memphis Juvenile Justice
April 17, 2012
U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on Fair Sentencing Act implementation
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in two cases, Hill v. United States and Dorsey v. United States, challenging the implementation of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a law that revised the harsh mandatory minimum sentences for federal crack cocaine offenses.
The petitioners had committed offenses before the reformed sentencing law was adopted but were sentenced after its enactment. They are challenging their sentencing under the old 100-to-1 sentencing structure rather than under the revised law.
April 13, 2012 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Missouri State House Approves Change in Crack Cocaine Sentences
The Missouri State House passed a bill this week that changes the disparity between sentences for crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences.
Under the current law, a person who sells 425 grams of powder cocaine would face the same charge and sentencing as someone who sells 2.5 grams of crack cocaine. Both crimes have mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years.
January 31, 2012
The Sentencing Project Again Argues for Fairness in Crack Cocaine Sentencing
This week The Sentencing Project joined with partner organizations to submit a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of two defendants challenging their excessive sentences for crack cocaine offenses. In Hill v. United States and Dorsey v. United States, both petitioners were sentenced in federal court for offenses involving crack cocaine after passage of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (FSA) but were subject to the old 100- to-1 sentencing structure. The petitioners had committed their offenses before the reformed sentencing law was enacted.