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Orange County Bar Association

Sentencing Guidelines Have Racial Result

Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo

Congress is in the process of revising the current policy for sentencing of crack cocaine and powder cocaine crimes. The House of Representatives and Senate each have a bill that targets the discrepancy in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine cases. Explained in an article on Find law, 5 grams of crack has a sentence of 5 years while a hundred times more powder cocaine, 500 grams carries the exact same sentence. The policy employed since the late 1980’s resulted in tougher sentencing for African American males for low level offenses involving crack, while the powder cocaine group, mostly white males with much larger amounts were doing less time. This policy has been pointed out as being outdated, biased and in need of reform. Some also argue that it would have been more efficient to send drug addicts to treatment programs instead of prison. Crack cocaine is the cheaper form used by the poorer population, while powder cocaine goes for a higher price and is used by more affluent drug users. This socio-economic difference served as another point to argue the unjust sentencing practices espoused by the federal government.

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