I’ll be testifying before @JudiciaryDems and @SenJudiciaryGOP at 9 CT this morning in support of the Equal Act, which eliminates unfairness in the sentencing between crack & powder cocaine cases. https://t.co/JPtZitYYP9
You can watch my testimony here: https://t.co/xeDHgLTvmt
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) June 22, 2021
For better than a decade, Governor Hutchinson, who headed the Drug Enforcement Administration under President George W. Bush, has advocated an end to sentencing disparities for people convicted of federal crack and powder cocaine offenses.
He testified today in favor of legislation to end the disparity. His statement here.
He explains in an op-ed for Fox News:
Stiffer penalties rarely led to busts of major dealers, only of small-timers readily replace in the supply chain; people misunderstood crack, which is no different chemically from powder campaign and violence associated with its use was more a product of where it was being sold than its properties, and it is simply unfair. There have been changes, but sentences are still longer and disproportionately applied to Black defendants.
The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act created a 100 to 1 disparity between the amount of crack cocaine that triggers a federal mandatory minimum sentence versus powder cocaine. Five grams of crack mandated a five-year sentence — 500 grams of powder cocaine was required to trigger the same sentence.
The disparity has been reduced to 18, but that’s still unfair, Hutchinson and others argue. The proposed law also would allow those with past convictions to apply for retroactive application of the less harsh guidelines.
Hutchinson is right on this issue. But some members of his party don’t think so. Some Tweets today include Sen. Joyce Elliott’s rejoinder to a typical tirade from Terrible Trent Garner.
Folks, what Sen. Garner is embarrassed about is righting a SYSTEMIC wrong, resulting in gross, sustained disparities. Also a great result of examining, questioning our justice SYSTEM through a critical legal theory (CLT) lens to address disparities. CRT, which grew out of CLT, is https://t.co/rr7RpjiBOv
— Joyce Elliott (@xjelliott) June 22, 2021
In league with Garner was Terrible Tom Cotton:
Crack penalties are harsher than powder cocaine penalties.
Let’s fix this by increasing the penalty for selling powder cocaine.
Not by letting drug traffickers out of prison.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 22, 2021
A touch of sanity from the governor’s nephew and former Republican:
— Jim Hendren (@JimHendren1) June 22, 2021
PS: The war on drugs has been a failure. See Prohibition for the results of Cotton’s tough-on-crime approach to the use of substances.