Crack Cocaine Sentence Reductions Start Today
[Cross-posted earlier today at Firedoglake.com]Finally, a little relief is at hand for the vastly disparate and draconian crack cocaine sentences meted out by federal courts. New federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenses went into effect today.
Starting today, many offenders sentenced in federal court for crack will receive a sentence about 16 months less than they would have yesterday.
By way of background, through mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the Feds have punished crack crimes far more severely than those involving powder cocaine. The U.S. Sentencing Commission followed suit by enacting guidelines that matched the mandatory minimums.
A crime involving five grams of crack cocaine carries a mandatory sentence of five years in prison, and 50 grams carries a 10-year penalty. However, it takes 500 and 1,000 grams of powdered cocaine to trigger the same five and 10 year sentences.
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