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Crack-vs.-powder disparity is questioned (Racial Discrimination Alleged)
Associated Press ^ | December 25, 2007 | Denise Lavoie

Posted on 12/25/2007 6:04:55 AM PST by Zakeet

During some of the bloodiest years of the drug wars of the 1980s, crack was seen as far more dangerous than powdered cocaine, and that perception was written into the sentencing laws. But now that notion is under attack like never before.

Criminologists, doctors and other experts say the differences between the two forms of the drug were largely exaggerated and do not justify the way the law comes down 100 times harder on crack.

A push to shrink the disparity in punishments got a boost last month when reduced federal sentencing guidelines went into effect for crack offenses. Then, earlier this month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets guidelines for federal cases, voted to make the reductions retroactive, allowing some 19,500 inmates, mostly black, to seek reductions in their crack sentences.

Many think the changes are long overdue.

Crack, because it is smoked and gets into the bloodstream faster than snorted cocaine, produces a more intense high and is generally considered more addictive than powdered cocaine.

But experts say that difference does not warrant the 100-to-1 disparity that was written into a 1986 law that set a mandatory minimum prison term of five years for trafficking in 5 grams of crack, or less than the amount in two packets of sugar. It would take 100 times as much cocaine to get the same sentence.

"There's no scientific justification to support the current laws," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Many defense lawyers and civil rights advocates say the lopsided perception of crack versus cocaine is rooted in racism. Four out of every five crack defendants are black, while most powdered-cocaine defendants are white.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cocaine; justice; prison; prosecution

1 posted on 12/25/2007 6:04:57 AM PST by Zakeet
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To: Zakeet

Because one crime is committed more often than another, it should be punished less? Playing the race card for crimes is the goal, and these are the same people who cite “discriminatory” prosecution of blacks, due to the disparity in prison inmate composition.


2 posted on 12/25/2007 6:18:13 AM PST by traditional1 (Thompson/Hunter '08 OR Hunter/Thompson '08)
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To: traditional1

Maybe it’s like giving different sentences for DUI while loaded on gin and tonics versus DUI while loaded on Colt 45s.

How are the crimes different, that they should received different sentences?


3 posted on 12/25/2007 6:26:19 AM PST by heartwood
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To: Zakeet

I’ve never heard of someone smoking crack not being an addict. On the other hand I’ve known many people who used cocaine in the 80’s and none of them became addicted. The only relation between the two is one is made from the other, almost like pseudophedrine and crystal meth.


4 posted on 12/25/2007 6:28:31 AM PST by blueheron2 (Hoist the colors!)
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To: traditional1

Hey - I’ve got an idea: Either fight the War on Drugs to win, or quit altogether. Cocain vs. Crack - who cares. They both are illegal, and both are horrible, destructive poisons on humans.

In the meantime - how many welfare babies being born on powder cocaine?

If the race-baiters want to stir the pot, how about working on something a bit more constructive, like figuring out WHY blacks are more likely to buy/sell/use crack cocaine. Then begin dealing with that reason. And I don’t want to hear anything about “the white man makes them” or “they gotta have a drug, and that is what they can afford”...


5 posted on 12/25/2007 6:29:22 AM PST by TheBattman (LORD God, please help us to elect a Godly and patriotic man for President in 08, Amen.)
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To: Zakeet
Racism? How ludicrous can you get?! Meth - Crack - any of the combinations people use to fry their brains is illegal let alone stupid and beyond dangerous. (Learn about this drug)

If you commit a crime while under the influence of one of these deadly drugs, and your lawyer tries to defend your actions because you were “impaired” Forget it, any good judge will throw your dumb arse in jail and your lawyer out of court. Taking illegal drugs is just that ILLEGAL – there are no color lines just stupidity and that ain’t Racism!

6 posted on 12/25/2007 6:29:31 AM PST by yoe ( NO THIRD TERM FOR THE CLINTON'S!!!)
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To: blueheron2

PS. If you want some insight into the crack problem google crack ho and crack whore.

Unless you believe all drug laws should be abolished, a thought I sometime entertain, this is a ridiculous turn of events, just a deadly form of political correctness. The only drug worse than crack is crystal meth.


7 posted on 12/25/2007 6:38:25 AM PST by blueheron2 (Hoist the colors!)
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To: Zakeet
"Four out of every five crack defendants are black"

THIS is the reason they're "re-thinking" the laws. Period. It's a political decision, pure and simple.

"If I had a well-to-do family whose wife was at home snorting coke versus someone who is a mother who is out on the street using crack, the babies would look very similar," Belcher said."

That's the politically correct thing to say. But take drugs out of the picture. You can't be serious in saying that the babies of a well-to-do family and of a street mother are equally healthy, physically and mentally.

Ridiculous.

8 posted on 12/25/2007 6:45:37 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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To: Zakeet

The average crack bust involves a suspect with a criminal,often violent record.The average coke bust does not.
Putting aside liberal bed-wetting “root cause” imavictimtoo psychobbable,the main purpose of the law is to remove bad guys,especially really bad guys,
from decent society.
For gooder or better—law to the letter.
Merry Christmas.


9 posted on 12/25/2007 6:50:17 AM PST by Happy Rain
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To: Zakeet
Back when this different penalties were being put into place I remember a lot of complaints from the black community that crack was a scourge destroying the community, especially when compared to powdered cocaine which was perceived as just a "little nose candy for rich, white guys". How much of the difference in penalties was asked for by black leaders themselves.

Sorry, I don't recall any names or exact details because time has made my memory of the details a little hazy and all of it was filtered through the MSM at the time so who knows how much of that was true in the first place.

10 posted on 12/25/2007 6:53:22 AM PST by KarlInOhio (Government is the hired help - not the boss. When politicians forget that they must be fired.)
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To: KarlInOhio
Back when this different penalties were being put into place I remember a lot of complaints from the black community that crack was a scourge destroying the community,

Not only that but they Blamed it on the CIA

If we wanted to be racist we would unleash these crack peddlers on their victims, most of whom are black.

11 posted on 12/25/2007 7:03:01 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: Zakeet
This has never made sense to me. Both crack and coke are the same d*mn thing and the sentences should be the same for both.

IMO do not lower the sentences for crack, raise them accordingly for cocaine. Done, fixed, over with.

12 posted on 12/25/2007 7:03:42 AM PST by SouthTexas (Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.)
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To: Zakeet
I believe it’s due to the fact crack is cheaper. Bet there’s a better correlation between how much $$$ the purchaser has than race.
13 posted on 12/25/2007 7:03:57 AM PST by Doctor Raoul (Columbia = Ayatollah U.)
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To: KarlInOhio

I remember some of that too, that crack was cheaper, and more addictive.


14 posted on 12/25/2007 7:05:09 AM PST by Doctor Raoul (Columbia = Ayatollah U.)
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To: Zakeet
...allowing some 19,500 inmates, mostly black, to seek reductions in their crack sentences

Crime wave coming.

15 posted on 12/25/2007 7:09:29 AM PST by Dagnabitt ("It's a 'virtual fence'...now run along little taxpayer.")
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To: Doctor Raoul

That’s not the reality. Crack is coke + baking soda.


16 posted on 12/25/2007 7:13:25 AM PST by SouthTexas (Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.)
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To: SouthTexas

Does one get a harsher sentence for hashish, as opposed to marijuana?


17 posted on 12/25/2007 7:21:38 AM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

LOL, no clue. There shouldn’t be. IMO, same should apply to morphine and heroin.


18 posted on 12/25/2007 7:23:53 AM PST by SouthTexas (Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.)
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To: blueheron2
Most flake users probably aren’t urinating on a subway while robbing the passengers. But once busted, the sentence should be the same for the actual possession.
19 posted on 12/25/2007 7:24:35 AM PST by BallyBill (Serial Hit-N-Run poster)
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To: Zakeet

There is only one reason Crack penalties are under fire: Race. It has nothing to do with anything else and anyone who tells you different is lying.


20 posted on 12/25/2007 7:26:17 AM PST by Bulldawg Fan (Victory is the last thing Murtha and his fellow Defeatists want.)
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To: Bulldawg Fan

OK, I’m convinced, lets raise the powder penalties to match the crack penalties.


21 posted on 12/25/2007 7:28:34 AM PST by Bulldawg Fan (Victory is the last thing Murtha and his fellow Defeatists want.)
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To: Zakeet

Here is what I don’t quite understand: Considering the extreme differences in sentencing, and I’m sure the dealers/users of the crack side are well aware of the disparity, why would any rational person continue to use the variant that will get them far, far more time in jail? It would seem obvious that the crack sentences would just encourage everyone to switch back to powder coke, or cook up their coke themselves, but only sell the powder. If I were a dealer, I’d sell powder and include a free kit to cook up the rock. But I’m sure that would lead to a nightly event where dope fiends run through the hood, on fire from head to toe, having incinerated themselves trying to cook rock. Maybe dealers could sell the powder, but then direct the fiends to another location where the refinement is done for free. But I’m sure all this has been thought through already.

Oh, one other big reasons crack is so popular among street dealers is it’s small size (portability) and inexpensive price (selling small but very potent shots at low prices). Coke is more difficult to carry, and costs more to get a solid high.


22 posted on 12/25/2007 8:01:16 AM PST by giobruno
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To: traditional1

Could it be because crack users are more often violent criminals than coke snorters?


23 posted on 12/25/2007 8:35:27 AM PST by JimRed ("Hey, hey, Teddy K., how many girls did you drown today?" TERM LIMITS, NOW!)
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To: Zakeet
Crack or powder? Both should get the same sentence. And this is a case where the death penalty would be appropriate.
24 posted on 12/25/2007 8:45:46 AM PST by Phlap (REDNECK@LIBARTS.EDU)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
California Health & Safety Code 11357b states this:

" (b) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100)."

H&S 11357c gets a little more severe:

"(c) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than six months or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by both such fine and imprisonment."

In this section, possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana can lead to 6 months and a 500 dollar fine. Again, it does not include concentrated cannabis. At the link, you can see the progression of penalties.

HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE

I believe hashish would be covered under H&S 11034 under Tetrahydrocannabinols, and possession would be a felony.

(20) Tetrahydrocannabinols. Synthetic equivalents of the substances contained in the plant, or in the resinous extractives of Cannabis, sp. and/or synthetic substances, derivatives, and their isomers with similar chemical structure and pharmacological activity such as the following: delta 1 cis or trans tetrahydrocannabinol, and their optical isomers; delta 6 cis or trans tetrahydrocannabinol, and their optical isomers; delta 3,4 cis or trans tetrahydrocannabinol, and its optical isomers. (Since nomenclature of these substances is not internationally standardized, compounds of these structures, regardless of numerical designation of atomic positions covered).

Tetrahydrocannabinols

25 posted on 12/25/2007 8:55:08 AM PST by Enterprise (Those who "betray us" also "Betray U.S." They're called DEMOCRATS!)
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To: SouthTexas

After a user injects the heroin, it breaks down into morphine in the users system. Funny thing in Kaleefornia though, possession of heroin is a felony. Once it is injected and breaks down into morphine, it is a misdemeanor. The lesson here is to use it before the police grab it.


26 posted on 12/25/2007 8:57:51 AM PST by Enterprise (Those who "betray us" also "Betray U.S." They're called DEMOCRATS!)
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To: Dagnabitt
"Crime wave coming."

Otherwise known as job security.

27 posted on 12/25/2007 8:59:22 AM PST by Enterprise (Those who "betray us" also "Betray U.S." They're called DEMOCRATS!)
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To: KarlInOhio
How much of the difference in penalties was asked for by black leaders themselves.

Thank you for bringing up the inconvenient history. When the crack epidemic hit in the late 80s, it was wreaking unbelievable havoc on the inner city. The leaders indeed asked, no demanded, the tough penalties.

They got what they wanted and the epidemic subsided somewhat. Now they and their liberal sycophants are screaming racism.

28 posted on 12/25/2007 9:02:10 AM PST by freespirited (Still a proud member of the Stupid Party. It beats the Evil Party any day of the week.)
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To: Doctor Raoul

That’s basically true. A cocaine user with money will be able to purchase the powder at high prices because he can afford it. In theory that should be a good thing because it would make it not affordable to the poor. What some genius came up with though is to take the powder, mix it with baking soda and water and cook it in a pan until it forms a paste, and keep cooking it until it “cracked.” Then the plentiful fragments, “rocks” are sold cheaply, in a smokable form. And thus a miracle is born. Poor people too can avail themselves of cocaine.


29 posted on 12/25/2007 9:08:25 AM PST by Enterprise (Those who "betray us" also "Betray U.S." They're called DEMOCRATS!)
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To: Zakeet
Then, earlier this month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets guidelines for federal cases, voted to make the reductions retroactive, allowing some 19,500 inmates, mostly black, to seek reductions in their crack sentences.

Rather than reduce the sentencing for Crack cocain users, why don't they just increase the sentences for Powder cocaine users?

30 posted on 12/25/2007 9:12:35 AM PST by Cowboy Bob (Real men don't vote Democrat.)
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To: Enterprise
That makes as much sense as the crack/coke thing.

And the government's cure? Pass another law.

31 posted on 12/25/2007 9:35:11 AM PST by SouthTexas (Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.)
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To: Zakeet
What about the disparity between morphine and an opiate synthesized from morphine like codeine?

And what about the disparity between codeine and another opiate synthesized from morphine — heroin? I guess a racial disparity argument could be made about the two opiates.

32 posted on 12/25/2007 9:47:15 AM PST by Perchant
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To: Zakeet
Crack cocaine is 10% cocaine hydrochloride and 90% baking powder.

Pure cocaine is supposed to be 100% cocaine hydrochloride, but is usually cut with lactose or some other filler.

As an analytical chemist, it seems obvious to me that the drug should be assayed to determine its purity. A kilo of 50% cocaine is the equivalent of a half-kilo of pure cocaine.

The penalties should based upon the equivalent amount of pure cocaine in the perp's possession.

33 posted on 12/25/2007 10:49:58 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam is a religion of peace, and Muslims reserve the right to kill anyone who says otherwise.)
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To: SouthTexas

Aint Government grand?


34 posted on 12/25/2007 10:52:06 AM PST by Enterprise (Those who "betray us" also "Betray U.S." They're called DEMOCRATS!)
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To: Zakeet

The US Supreme Court just dealt with this issue and said judges had the ability to sentence crack-related crimes down to the level of powder cocaine.


35 posted on 12/25/2007 10:52:53 AM PST by SeaHawkFan
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To: Zakeet
This doesn’t work:

Drug choice is not biologically, inherently determined by race.

duh!

36 posted on 12/25/2007 10:52:58 AM PST by bannie
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To: Perchant

Good point. As you know, it all starts out as opium. From there it gets transformed to morphine, and further to other products like codeine or heroin. Regardless, the law will give you a lot of time to think about it you want to medicate yourself outside of the strictly controlled medical community.


37 posted on 12/25/2007 10:55:47 AM PST by Enterprise (Those who "betray us" also "Betray U.S." They're called DEMOCRATS!)
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To: Zakeet
There's no scientific justification to support the current laws," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Except that crack-heads are more violent !

38 posted on 12/25/2007 10:56:57 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (you shall know that I, YHvH, your Savior, and your Redeemer, am the Elohim of Ya'aqob. Isaiah 60:16)
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To: Enterprise

Ain’t it though?


39 posted on 12/25/2007 12:44:16 PM PST by SouthTexas (Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.)
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To: XeniaSt
Except that crack-heads are more violent !

Did you forget about people like Pablo Escobar? I doubt if he ever saw crack cocaine.

40 posted on 12/25/2007 12:53:26 PM PST by SouthTexas (Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.)
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To: Zakeet

Always victims, never perps.


41 posted on 12/25/2007 1:00:22 PM PST by A_Former_Democrat
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To: heartwood

Used to be they thought the crimes were different. Now that we know they are the same it’s long overdue to bring about parity in punishment ~ preferably by INCREASING the time on cocaine powder use.


42 posted on 12/25/2007 2:28:27 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: SouthTexas
That’s not the reality. Crack is coke + baking soda.

Yep! In fact, you can easily mix powdered cocaine with a little baking soda and smoke it off of a sheet of tin-foil and have the same high as crack.

43 posted on 12/25/2007 2:35:18 PM PST by Drew68
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To: Bulldawg Fan
There is only one reason Crack penalties are under fire: Race. It has nothing to do with anything else and anyone who tells you different is lying.

And race is the one reason why crack penalties were higher in the first place. And anyone who tells you different is lying.

44 posted on 12/25/2007 2:37:04 PM PST by Drew68
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To: Drew68

That’s beyond my scope of knowledge. :)


45 posted on 12/25/2007 2:40:38 PM PST by SouthTexas (Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.)
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To: Bulldawg Fan
OK, I’m convinced, lets raise the powder penalties to match the crack penalties.

The obvious solution.

Beat me to it.

46 posted on 12/25/2007 2:42:01 PM PST by HIDEK6
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To: SouthTexas
That’s beyond my scope of knowledge. :)

Yeah, there used to be a few undesirable folks in my extended social circle.

But it is true. Take 5 grams of cocaine and you are looking at one prison sentence. Mix this five grams of cocaine with a little perfectly legal baking soda and suddenly the prison sentence is 100 times harsher.

47 posted on 12/25/2007 2:48:19 PM PST by Drew68
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To: Drew68
Oh I agree, the differential in penalties is nothing but stupid. But as we commonly see, even on this thread, people still think there is a difference, that one is worse than the other.

I haven't run in those circles in many years, so there is no "need to know". ;)

48 posted on 12/25/2007 5:53:10 PM PST by SouthTexas (Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.)
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To: Zakeet

Both sentences may be too high. However, I am not sure I support the “Crackhead Equality Initiative”! Should JUDGES make up their own laws?


49 posted on 12/25/2007 6:24:02 PM PST by 2harddrive (...House a TOTAL Loss.....)
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To: blueheron2

nah...there are plenty of people who smoke or have smoked crack and are not addicted. Except for drugs like heroin, the addiction rate is fairly consistent across the board...it runs along similar lines for alcoholism...ie. some people are prone to addictions. Btw...I am not a drug user, but am a proponent for sane drug laws, and find the current status a waste of taxpayer funds.


50 posted on 12/25/2007 7:38:19 PM PST by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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