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By Jack King; Ivan J. Dominguez
At Long Last, Crack-Powder Sentencing Disparity Reduced
The House of Representatives on July 28 passed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 — the legislation that will relax the crack-powder disparity. Earlier this year the Senate adopted the legislation by unanimous consent. While the legislation fails to eliminate the sentencing disparity completely, it does reduce that disparity to roughly 18:1 from the current 100:1. When the bill becomes law, distribution of a gram of crack will draw roughly the same sentence as distribution of 18 grams of powder. NACDL welcomes this progress toward a rational domestic drug policy.
Currently, federal drug sentences for possession and sale are based on the weight of the controlled substance. And for over two decades, possession of five grams of cocaine base (crack cocaine), without intent to distribute, has triggered the same mandatory five-year sentence as distribution of 500 grams of powder cocaine. The new legislation eliminates that mandatory minimum.
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