House approved bill to reduce cocaine sentencing disparity

On July 28, 2010, the US House of Representatives approved legislation to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 amended the law to reduce the sentencing ratio from 100:1 to 18:1. Under a law passed in 1986, an individual possessing five grams of crack cocaine would receive a mandatory five-year prison sentence, while an individual possessing powder cocaine would need to have 100 times that amount to receive the same sentence. Human Rights Watch praised the bill's passage, stating that the law also created a racial disparity, with African Americans comprising 79.8 percent of all offenders sentenced for crack cocaine violations. The bill had been previously passed by the Senate and was later signed by President Barack Obama.

Learn more about the crack cocaine sentencing disparity from the JURIST news archive.


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