News Release

Press Conference, Hearing House Committee to Review Cocaine Disparity

Washington, DC­ (February 26, 2008) – Representatives of a coalition of citizens, community activists and criminal justice organizations are in Washington to participate in “Crack the Disparity” Lobby Day, which is being held in conjunction with the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security’s cocaine sentencing hearing today. The “Hearing on Cracked Justice – Addressing the Unfairness of Cocaine Sentencing” is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. in Rayburn Building Room 2237. In conjunction with that hearing, members of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) from around the country are flying in to lobby their representatives and senators in favor of pending legislation which would reduce federal penalties for possession of cocaine base (“crack”) and bring them more into line with the penalties for powder cocaine. NACDL is the nation’s only bar association devoted exclusively to criminal defense, the fair administration of justice and due process in state and federal courts.

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, Room B318

2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2237

“The current penalty scheme is unjust, and legislative correction of the sentencing disparities is long overdue,” said NACDL President Carmen Hernandez. The present ratio treats possession of even a very small quantity of crack approximately 100 times more severely than the powder form of the drug.

“Nowhere is this more apparent than in the fact that 83 percent of inmates serving time in the federal system for crack cocaine are minorities, and their sentences are more than 50 percent longer than inmates serving time for cocaine powder,” Hernandez said. “This is true even though crack defendants tend to be low-level street dealers. In fact, the average sentence for possession of crack cocaine is far longer than the average sentences for violent crimes such as robbery and sexual abuse.”

For more information on Crack the Disparity Lobby Day, go to 

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.