2010: The Fair Sentencing Act

Moment in History:

In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act set out to alleviate the disparities in the sentences doled out to those charged for crack cocaine, versus powder cocaine use and possession. “For the past three decades, those arrested for crack offenses — mostly young, African American men — faced far harsher penalties than the white and Hispanic suspects most often caught with powder cocaine. A person found holding 500 grams of powder cocaine would face a five-year mandatory minimum; crack offenders would have to be in possession of a mere 5 grams to face the same obligatory sentence. Crack offenders faced a 10-year mandatory minimum for carrying 10 grams of the drug; the same penalty would not kick in for a powder-cocaine suspect unless caught with 1,000 grams.” House lawmakers intend for this measure to reduce the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity to 18-to-1.

An Expert’s Perspective

More information at:

The Fair Sentencing Act corrects a long-time wrong in cocaine cases

United States Sentencing Commission Memorandum