In a directive to the Attorney General, Merrick Garland said that there is no reason to apply harsher penalties for crack-related crimes.
“The disparity between crack and powder is simply not supported by science, as there are no significant pharmacological differences between the two drugs,” the prosecutor said.
When Crack, a derivative of cocaine, broke into the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. Congress passed a law – authored by then-Senator and now President Joe Biden – establishing harsher penalties for possession and trafficking compared to powdered cocaine.
The law recommended more than five years in prison for possession of 500 grams of powdered cocaineand the same sentence for only five grams of crack, justifying the difference by the greater impact of crack, according to the think tank The Sentencing Project.
Besides, possession of crack carried a mandatory prison sentence from the first offense of more than five grams.
At that moment, crack was most common in impoverished African-American communitieswhile powdered cocaine was popular among wealthy white people.
The result was the massive incarceration of black people, often with very long sentences, during the crack epidemic, increasing the prison population for long periods.
The fallout still reverberates through the prison system and black communities, despite a 2010 law that removed the mandatory sentencing requirement for crack.
A law signed in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump allowed crack offenders to appeal based on the disparity in sentencing for the two drugs.
This led to more than 4,500 people having their sentences reduced, according to an August 2022 report from the US Sentencing Commission.
However, the petition from Garland, who was appointed by Biden, says that “the differential sentencing between crack and powder is still responsible for unjustified racial disparities in sentencing.”
The entrance US Attorney General calls for equal criminal treatment of coke and crack was first published on newspaper TODAY.