Congress has taken a bold move with “The Crack vs. Cocaine” sentencing controversy and have decided to pass the “fair sentencing act”, which would lessen the penalty for the possession of crack cocaine and make it fair to the sentencing for possession of cocaine.
Since the boom of crack cocaine in the mid 80’s- The laws have been stronger against the possession of crack- a drug primarily used in urban minority communities and cocaine, used by middle to upper class whites.
The law, which was enacted in 1986, allowed an individual in possession of 5 grams of crack to receive the same prison term as a person convicted of trafficking 500 grams of powder cocaine. If passed, the bill would also eliminate the five-year mandatory minimum for first time possession of crack.
“Politicians and the U.S. Sentencing Commission have for years acknowledged the unfairness of the system, but no one wanted to look soft on crime,”claims Julie Stewart- the president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
During his presidential campaign, President Obama agreed that the sentencing was unfair and claimed that “the wide gap in sentencing cannot be justified and should be eliminated.”
The bill didn’t come without any opposition, with Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas speaking out against the bill, saying the 1986 law was enacted at a time when the crack cocaine epidemic was producing a rise in violence within minority communities and that enacting the bill would be a mistake.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who sponsored the bill, brought up the fact that while Blacks make up 30 percent of crack users, they account for more than 80 percent of those convicted of federal crack offenses.
The bill is being sent to President Obama for final approval and signature.