DOJ Announces Support for Scaling Back Crack-Cocaine Sentencing Disparities

The Federal Docket

July 14, 2021

Late last month, the Department of Justice submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate “urging Congress to pass legislation to permanently end the sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powder, a policy that has led to the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans across the United States.”

The DOJ stated that the sentencing disparity, established in the 1980s, was based on “misguided policy” and “misinformation.” The DOJ further noted that 87.5% of people in federal prison serving time for crack offenses were black.

The disparity between the quantities of crack-cocaine and powder-cocaine sufficient to trigger mandatory minimum sentences used to be 100 to 1. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced it to 18 to 1 and the First Step Act of 2018 made this reform retroactive. The Supreme Court recently held that crack offenders not subjected to mandatory minimum sentences cannot seek relief under the Fair Sentencing Act.

Senator Grassley issued a written statement in support of reforming federal drug laws but criticized the DOJ for not providing a live witness.

Read the original article from Reuters.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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