This compelling Op-Ed calls for reforming the cocaine sentencing disparity created by the Anti Drug Abuse Act:
Defendants convicted with just 5 grams of crack cocaine, the weight of 5 sugar packets, were subject to a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. The same penalty was triggered for powder cocaine only when an offense involved at least 500 grams.
Twenty years later, the aftermath of these laws is sobering. More than 80 percent of the defendants prosecuted for a crack offense are African-American, despite the fact that more than two-thirds of crack users are white or Hispanic. By and large, these defendants are not the kingpins of the drug trade. Data from the US Sentencing Commission document that 73 percent of crack defendants had only low-level involvement in drug activity, such as street-level dealers, couriers, or lookouts. The commission also has found that crack cocaine sentences are the single most significant factor contributing to racial disparity in federal sentencing.