New Report on Crack-Powder Disparity
The American Constitution Society today released a new white paper (pdf) on crack-powder sentencing disparity, examining whether the International Race Convention might provide some relief.
The federal criminal penalty structure for the possession and distribution of crack cocaine is one hundred times more severe than the penalty structure relating to powder cocaine. Blacks comprise the vast majority of those convicted of crack cocaine offenses while the majority of those convicted of powder cocaine offenses are white. This disparity has led to inordinately harsh sentences disproportionately meted out to African American defendants that are far more severe than sentences for comparable activity by white defendants. Indeed, the U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that revising this one sentencing rule would do more to reduce the sentencing gap between blacks and whites "than any other single policy change," and would "dramatically improve the fairness of the federal sentencing system."
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