Federal commission changes sentence law for crack-related crimes
The U.S Sentencing Commission recently decided to pass a new law that makes the penalties for using crack cocaine more similar to those for using powdered cocaine, The Associated Press reports. As a result, about 12,000 people who are currently in federal prison for crack-related crimes may have their sentences reduced.
Previously, under a law that was created in 1986, an individual who was convicted of possessing crack cocaine would receive the same sentence as a person who had 100 times the amount of powdered cocaine. This means that having five grams of crack would bring a mandatory five years in prison, while it would take 500 grams of powdered cocaine to receive the same sentence, the news outlet states.
Many criminal justice professionals found the previous law to be racially unfair, as it is statistically more likely for African American individuals to use crack than powdered cocaine.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, about 36.8 million people, or 15 percent of the population, above the age of 12 have tried using cocaine at least once.