Now that the law reducing the disparity between federal crack and powder cocaine sentences finally has been signed, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) will push for it to be applied retroactively to individuals already serving sentences for crack violations, says MainJustice.com. President Obama signed the bill Tuesday.
For two decades, individuals convicted of crack offenses faced far harsher penalties than defendants convicted of similar offenses involving cocaine powder. A person in possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine would face a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. Crack offenders would face the same penalty for a mere 5 grams. The new law reduces the sentencing disparity to 18 to 1, meaning that a person convicted of selling 28 grams of crack would face the same five-year mandatory minimum as someone with 500 grams of cocaine. The law also eliminates mandatory minimum sentencing for simply possessing the drug. The U.S. Sentencing Commission says that between 5,500 and 6,000 offenders are sentenced for crack offenses each year. The law will reduce by up to 27 months sentences for about 3,000 offenders each year, FAMM says.