Senate Approves Bill To Reduce Crack-Cocaine Sentencing Disparity

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The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to reduce the disparities in sentences handed down for people convicted of crack and powder cocaine charges, but some question whether the legislation goes deep enough in addressing the problem.

“What we have is progress, it’s not justice,” said Jennifer Bellamy, criminal justice legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

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“There still is no reason to say that crack and cocaine are different,” Bellamy told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2009, a person convicted of crack possession gets the same mandatory jail sentence as someone with 100 times the quantity of powder cocaine. Because crack is prevalent in black communities, this 100-to-one ratio has sent large numbers of black men to jail for longer periods.

Under the measure, approved by a voice vote, the ratio would be reduced to 18-to-one.

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