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Congress Changes Crack Cocaine Sentences

Published on 07/29/2010 -

Congress approved a bill that will reduce the mandatory sentences for crack cocaine offenders on Wednesday.

This bill addresses the disparity in sentencing guidelines between the possession of crack cocaine and the powder form of the drug.

Previously, crack users could be charged with a felony for possessing 5 grams of the drug whereas powder cocaine users needed to be caught with 500 grams, a 100-1 disparity.

Crack cocaine is disproportionately used by African Americans, leading to accusations that the law was fueled by racist motivations.

A person caught with 28 grams of crack cocaine will now trigger a five-year jail sentence. Therefore, the ratio of disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing is now at 18-1 instead of the previous 100-1 ratio.

The bill passed in both the House and the Senate with bipartisan support. Some critics denounce the new law because it still treats crack and powder cocaine users differently.

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