Inequality in the Criminal Justice System Continues
Senator Richard Durbin (Democrat from Illinois) introduced a bill to eliminate the sentencing disparity for crack vs. powder cocaine. ACLU Legislative Counsel Jennifer Bellamy commented: “We finally have the political will and momentum to end this unconstitutional disparity. We should not miss this opportunity to effect real change and ensure fair sentencing for all Americans.”
Senator Jefferson Sessions (Republican from Alabama) created an amendment to this bill, which called for the reduction of the sentencing disparity from 100 to 1 to 20 to 1. In exchange for Senator Durbin accepting this amendment, Senator Sessions withdrew another amendment that narrowed judicial discretion to reduce sentences for offenders in special situations and implemented 10-year mandatory minimum sentences for possession.
The Senate decided against eradicating the sentencing disparity for crack vs. powder cocaine. Like many other inequalities in the criminal justice system, the sentencing disparity for crack vs. powder cocaine continues to disproportionately affect blacks.