Pubdate: Sat, 06 Aug 2011
Source: Northwest Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2011 Northwest Herald Newspapers
Author: Jesus Hernandez


Since the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act that enabled a five-year minimum
sentence for the possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine, equaling a
100-to-1 ratio compared to powder cocaine, unfair sentences have been

This disparity for this issue that contributes to overcrowding in our
federal prisons, taxpayer money being wasted in the funding of housing
these offenders with longterm sentences, has been ignored. Until the
recent 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which is expected to benefit 3,000
offenders annually by decreasing their sentences, the ratio has
dropped to 18-to-1. Although this is progress, it is not enough. Why
is it that lawmakers took nearly a quarter century to address this
injustice? The housing of these nonviolent offenders is costing an
average of $87,665 per year for one offender, and yet this new law
still holds an 18-to-1 difference for what essentially is the same
drug in different form.

This new law is called Fair Sentencing Act. For it to be fair, there
should not be an 18-to-1 ratio against powder cocaine. The same
sanctions should be used for cocaine with no discrimination on whether
it's crack or powder. It's the same illegal substance.

Creating an equal sentencing act will further help cut costs, reduce
African-Americans' high population of offenders housed in relation to
this crime, and hold powder cocaine offenders more

Jesus Hernandez

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