Congress Cuts Racist Crack Sentencing Disparity

Felony amount now only 18 times higher for powder cocaine
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2010 7:00 AM CDT
Congress Cuts Racist Crack Sentencing Disparity
Crack cocaine rocks are measured in a DEA lab.   (Drug Enforcement Agency)

Congress quietly eased up the federal sentencing guideline on crack cocaine yesterday, addressing one of the more glaring disparities of the drug war. In what critics have called a racist double-standard, possessing a mere 5 grams of crack is considered a felony, compared to 500 grams for powdered cocaine. The bill the House approved yesterday reduces that 100-to-1 disparity to 18-to-1, the Huffington Post reports, upping the crack threshold to 28 grams.

The measure had already made it through the Senate, but as of last week wasn’t even on the House schedule. Then over the weekend Nancy Pelosi told Netroots Nation it would be on the docket this week, and by Tuesday it was. Republicans let it through on a voice vote—meaning no one had to go on record to vote for it—thanks to support from conservatives like Tom Coburn and activist Grover Norquist. President Obama is expected to sign the bill. (More crack cocaine stories.)

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