Good news for those behind bars for crack cocaine! The Fair Sentencing Act is finally taking effect and prisoners of crack cocaine are being released due to lengthy prison sentences under old laws.
Under the old law, if two men were arrested for crack possession but one offender had only 2 grams of crack cocaine (who’s most likely to be African American), while the other man had 200 grams of powder cocaine (who’s most likely to be Caucasian)…they both would be given the same sentence.
Washington (CNN) — For thousands of prison inmates convicted of crack cocaine charges, the prison doors will be opening early, thanks to sentencing changes easing the disparity between the penalties for possessing or distributing crack vs. powder cocaine.
Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act in August 2010, changing the 100-to-1 disparity between minimum sentences for crack and powder cocaine to 18 to 1. The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted this summer to make the reduced crack penalties retroactive, which means more than 12,000 current inmates are eligible to request reduced sentences.
The retroactivity took effect Tuesday. The Sentencing Commission estimates that inmates will have an average of three years chopped off their sentences. An estimated 1,800 inmates became eligible for release immediately because they had already served enough time, and prosecutors did not object to their release.
Critics of the old sentencing system say it was unfair to African-Americans, who make up the majority of those convicted of possessing and distributing crack.
“This really has been one of the great stains on our federal criminal justice system for 20 years or more,” said Michael Nachmanoff, the federal public defender for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This disparity between the punishment for crack cocaine and powder was really unjustified.”
So happy to hear this! Anyone you know released early from prison due to this law? Share!