Will House Will Compromise On Crack-Powder Penalties?


The sponsor of House legislation to eliminate the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences said he and House colleagues are unsure about whether they will proceed with the Senate's version of the bill, reports MainJustice.com. Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House crime subcommittee, who introduced the House measure last July and has long championed the change, said he is keeping all options open and a final decision should come in “a week or so.”

“The only thing that can really be justified is a total elimination of the disparity,” Scott said. “But the [Senate] bill is better than what we've got.” The Senate passed the Fair Sentencing Act by voice vote last week. It would establish a 18-to-1 sentencing ratio for crack and powder cocaine offenses. By contrast, the House version would eliminate the current decades-old sentencing law that sets a 100-to-1 ratio. That law requires the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the possession of five grams of crack cocaine as it does for the possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine.

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