The sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine has long been a controversial one. Many critics say the law is unfair and targets the black community. But some federal agents and prosecutors argue that crack is far more likely to be associated with violence, and consequently should carry tougher penalties.
By Lawrence Buser
Memphis Commercial Appeal
MEMPHIS — The nation’s top prosecutor told members of the National Black Prosecutors Association today that the pursuit of justice should include eliminating sentencing disparities in cases involving crack and powder cocaine.
Speaking to some 200 association members at the Marriott Downtown, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said the Justice Department is reviewing federal sentencing policies, including “the 100-to-1 crack-powder sentencing ratio” adopted in the 1980s.
“Although some may seek to impose the soft-on-crime label on anyone who speaks the truth about this issue, we all know that this egregious difference in punishment is simply wrong,” said Holder, 58, a former federal judge in Washington.
“I have seen first-hand the effect that disparities in drug sentences have had on our communities. In my career as a prosecutor and as a judge, I saw too often the cost borne by the community when promising, capable young people sacrificed years of their futures for non-violent offenses.”