Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reason #58: Drugs Are Bad, M'kay

As I've mentioned before, maybe the strongest, most stark evidence of continuing racism in America is the criminal justice system. And within that problem, the biggest offender may be mandatory minimums - rules that set the least severe sentencing option for those convicted of a given crime.

Most famously are the minimum sentences for crack-related changes (black drug) versus those for powdered cocaine-related charges (white drug), which have for decades involved a 100-to-1 disparity.

In other words, getting caught with 5 grams of crack brings a minimum sentence of 5 years in jail, which is the same minimum sentence you get for 500 grams of cocaine.

The good news is, thanks to last year's Fair Sentencing Act (why it took a year to go into effect I couldn't say), the 100-to-1 disparity has been whittled down to 18-to-1, which still sucks, but hey - it's progress. Especially for the roughly 12 thousand current inmates, who can now request reduced sentences - 1800 of which can be released immediately (or as close to immediately as the government gets).

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