February 02, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Disparity in Crack Cocaine and Powder Cocaine Sentencing
There is no question that the justice system treats offenses involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine differently. The U.S. Supreme Court states that 100 grams of powder are treated the same as just 1 gram of crack.
As a result, an individual arrested with 5 grams of crack could receive drug charges that may include a five-year prison sentence, while someone with the powder version would have to possess at least 500 grams to receive the same sentence.
A Bit of Background: Why the Difference?
Why the extreme difference in penalties associated with the two? The distinction began in 1986, when the solid, or "crack," version of cocaine became readily available. Originally, it was thought that crack cocaine was much more addictive than the powder form. This belief was amplified when two young athletes died in connection to the use of cocaine.
At first, it was reported that the young men were using crack, which led to their deaths. Many members of the public quickly joined a push to increase the penalties associated with this form of the drug to deter the nation's youth from using the drug. Later it was found that the young men had actually used the powder form of the drug, but the public continued to demand more stringent punishment for crack users, leading Congress to enact stiffer penalties for drug crimes involving crack cocaine than powder cocaine.
Although the desire to keep dangerous, addictive drugs out of the hands of the nation's youth is admirable, some experts argue the disparity in punishment between crack and powder cocaine is unjustified. Based on research conducted at Columbia University, Associate Professor of Neuroscience Carl L. Hart told the Huffington Post that there is no difference between the two forms.
The professor has spent over 14 years studying the impact of cocaine on people and explained that smoking crack cocaine and injecting powder cocaine have the same impact. As a result, he argues that the penalties should also be the same.
Impact: Racial Disparity?
Dr. Hart further argues, along with many others, that the stiff penalties associated with crack-cocaine drug crimes disproportionately target African Americans. Dr. Hart supports this argument by stating that although the majority of cocaine users are white, over "85 percent of those sentenced for crack cocaine offenses are black."
According to the Supreme Court, the difference results from the form of the drug used. Whites more commonly are caught using the powder form while blacks more often use the "rock" or solid variety of cocaine.
The concern over disproportionate sentences for the different forms is also shared by President Barack Obama. Once in office, President Obama passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the disparity in the length of the sentences imposed from 100:1 to 18:1. Although a dramatic reduction, opponents of the disparity argue any difference in sentencing is unjust.
Although many advocates continue to push for removal of any disparity, it will always be important to take drug charges seriously. If you or a loved one is charged with a drug crime, discuss your situation with an experienced drug charges lawyer to better protect your legal rights.
Article provided by Dziedziak & Marcus, P.C.
Visit us at http://www.dzmlaw.com---
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