The Champion

June 2007 , Page 6 

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By Jack King

Read more NACDL News columns.

On May 1, the Sentencing Commission sent Congress its 2007 amendments to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The amendment to the cocaine base (“crack”) guideline could bring some small measure of fairness back into drug sentences, and NACDL supports the new guideline as a sensible and progressive first step toward ending the unfair disparity in cocaine sentencing.

Federal drug sentences for possession and sale are based on the weight of the controlled substance. For two decades, the federal sentencing guidelines have treated possession of one gram of cocaine base as the equivalent of 100 grams of powder cocaine. According to the Sentencing Commission, the proposed amendment will bring the federal sentencing guideline more closely into line with the mandatory minimum penalties set by Congress for possession of crack cocaine.

Roughly, the statutory mandatory minimums for possession effectively would become the top of the guidelines ranges. For example, under the

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