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Today in legal history...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

US Senate voted to reduce cocaine sentencing disparity
Dwyer Arce at 12:00 AM ET

On March 17, 2010, the US Senate voted unanimously in favor of legislation reducing sentencing disparities for powder and crack cocaine offenses. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), amended existing law to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine convictions from 100:1 to 18:1. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) praised the bill but said it did not go far enough and that the proposed sentencing disparities would still disproportionately affect African-Americans. The law also eliminated the five-year mandatory sentence for first-time possession of crack cocaine and increased monetary penalties for drug trafficking. The legislation was later passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Learn more about the crack cocaine sentencing disparity from the JURIST news archive, and read reaction to the legislation's passage by Eric Sterling and Julie Stewart on JURIST Hotline.

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