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Equality of Sentencing for Crack Cocaine

by James Heller 29. April 2009 14:05
Tarzana Treatment Centers is dedicated to helping people with alcohol dependence and drug addiction.  This means that alcohol and drug detox and treatment cannot be our only concern.  At the same time, we occasionally advocate for public policy matters that affect alcoholics, drug addicts, and the alcohol and drug treatment community.

On April 29th, at 10:00 am, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs conducted an official hearing entitled “Restoring Fairness to Federal Sentencing: Addressing the Crack-Powder Disparity.”

The bill that was discussed does not just equalize sentencing for offences that involve the two forms of cocaine.  It also includes a treatment sentence option.  The success of programs like California’s Prop 36 that offer treatment instead of incarceration should be enough to persuade elected officials to pass this bill.  Sadly, this issue has a history that has allowed inequality of sentencing to carry on.

In the midst of the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s, legislation was pushed through congress that forced tough sentencing guidelines on judges for drug offenses involving crack.  These sentences were placed much higher than those for comparable powder cocaine offenses.  

For over 20 years, the guidelines have been debated and at least 9 bills have been introduced to equalize the laws on powder and crack cocaine.  Unfortunately, these bills have never even made their way out of committee and to the Senate floor for a vote.  This roadblock to equality must be cleared in 2009.

Please link to and print the 2 petitions below for US Senators Boxer and Feinstein from California.  Get as many signatures as you can and send them to the addresses included.  If you reside in a state other than California, get the name of your US Senators here, and do the same for them.

Contact information is below for offices of Democrat (majority) and Republican (minority) members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs.  Some members of both parties need to be convinced that the bill must not be stalled in committee again.  Call each office and tell them you want equality in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine, and that treatment instead of incarceration works.

Majority Party Office: 202-224-1158

Minority Party Office: 202-224-5972