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The Fair Sentencing Act Of 2009

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The Fair Sentencing Act of 2009 seeks to end the difference in criminal sentences currently imposed for crack cocaine crimes and powder cocaine crimes. Currently, the sentences for crack-related crimes are 100 times greater than those for powder cocaine-related crimes. When the original sentencing guidelines were created, it was thought that crack cocaine was more dangerous than powder cocaine. Over the years, though, a severe racial disparity was revealed – specifically that more African American defendants are convicted of crack cocaine crimes than white defendants are convicted of powder cocaine crimes. Further, since the sentences for crack offenses are 100 times greater than for powder cocaine, these sentencing rules quickly resulted in mostly African Americans serving harsh prison sentences for drug offenses. Under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2009, this racial disparity would end and, for example, possession of 500 grams of crack and 500 grams of powder cocaine would trigger the same mandatory minimum sentence. If passed, the legislation would also include harsher sentences for major drug traffickers, as opposed to street dealers.

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