Attorney General Merrick Garland today gave new instructions to federal prosecutors to stop treating crack and powder cocaine differently in criminal sentencing. This landmark move will finally halt the racist disparity created by the War on Drugs that treated 100 grams of powder cocaine the same as one gram of crack cocaine and disproportionately impacted communities of color.
"The crack-cocaine sentencing disparity has always been unjust and unsound,” said Janos Marton, the Vice President of Political Strategy Dream.Org, the nonprofit whose formerly incarcerated leaders were instrumental in securing bipartisan support for reform. “These two substances are chemically identical, but have been treated differently in order to keep more people of color in prison for more time. That is why, despite historic partisan divides, Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly come together in recent years to reduce this disparity, first in 2010 when the Fair Sentencing Act reduced the disparity from 100:1 to 18:1, and most recently last year when 361 House Democrats and Republicans united to pass the EQUAL Act, ending the disparity entirely. Shamefully, despite such widespread support, including from Donald Trump who made the 18:1 standard retroactive, the Senate has failed to act on this legislation. We applaud Attorney General Garland for this common sense change to fix a war on drugs that everyone agrees is failing our communities. But a lasting fix will require Congressional action. There is still time and we implore the Senate to follow the lead of both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as a bipartisan majority of the House, and put an end to racist disparities in our drug laws.”