Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cocaine Sentencing Disparity Still Exists Among States

In August 2010 President Barack Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, historic legislation that reduced the quantity-based sentencing differential between federal crack and powder cocaine convictions that resulted in significant racial disparities and excessive penalties, according to the Sentencing Project.

The bipartisan measure addressed the 100-to-1 disparity that punished defendants with five grams of crack cocaine (also known as cocaine base) with the same five-year mandatory minimum penalty imposed on powder cocaine defendants with 100 times that amount.

The Sentencing Project called Cracked Justice addresses disparities in cocaine sentencing in 13 states and documents efforts at the federal and state level to correct these injustices.

In Missouri, where a defendant convicted of selling six grams of crack cocaine faces the same prison term–-a ten-year mandatory minimum–-as someone who sells 450 grams of powder cocaine, or 75 times that amount.

In Oklahoma, which maintains a 6-to-1 quantity-based sentencing disparity, a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence is triggered for five grams of crack cocaine and 28 grams of powder cocaine.

In Ohio, sentencing disparities vary across felony categories based on quantity amounts. The state uses a 10-to-1 ratio of 1,000 grams of powder cocaine and 100 grams of crack cocaine for major drug offenses and imposes a ten-year mandatory minimum.

Read the full report Cracked Justice

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