Liberal Advocates Disappointed Over Crack-Powder Compromise


The Senate Judiciary Committee compromise on reducing the disparity in the federal penalties for crack and powder cocaine disappointed Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, reports the Washington Post. FAMM wanted to eliminate the 100-to-1 disparity. Stewart said about 3,000 people could benefit from the measure as it is written, cutting the disparity to 18 to 1 for people caught with crack cocaine vs. those who carry the drug in powdered form. Kara Gotsch of the Sentencing Project said the committee action “falls far short of what fairness and justice would require.” Some police organizations favor a tougher penalty for crack. James Pasco, Fraternal Order of Police director, said he is assessing the bill. “Eighteen to 1: The best I can say is, it could have been worse.”

The Post said the final compromise was agreed to Thursday when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il.) encountered fellow committee members Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) in the Senate gym. The panel unanimously passed the measure 19 to 0 a few hours later, addressing for the first time in 24 years a sentencing disparity that has troubled civil rights organizations, prisoners rights advocates, and officials in the Obama White House.

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