Senate Sponsors Laud House Passage Of EQUAL Act
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism, Rob Portman (R-OH), Rand Paul (R-KY), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the bipartisan Senate sponsors of the EQUAL Act, issued the following statement:
“Today, House Republicans and Democrats joined together in passing the EQUAL Act, legislation that will once and for all eliminate the unjust federal crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity. Enjoying broad support from faith groups, civil rights organizations, law enforcement, and people of all political backgrounds, this commonsense bill will help reform our criminal justice system so that it better lives up to the ideals of true justice and equality under the law. We applaud the House for its vote today and we urge our colleagues in the Senate to support this historic legislation.”
The Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law (EQUAL) Act would eliminate the crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity and ensure that those who were convicted or sentenced for a federal offense involving cocaine can receive a re-sentencing under the new law.
After the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, sentencing for crack and powder cocaine offenses vastly differed. For instance, until 2010, someone caught distributing five grams of crack cocaine served the same five-year prison sentence as someone caught distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine. Over the years, this 100:1 sentencing disparity has been widely criticized as lacking scientific justification. Furthermore, the crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity has disproportionately impacted people of color.
The Fair Sentencing Act, introduced by Durbin, passed in 2010 during the Obama Administration and reduced the sentencing disparity from 100:1 to 18:1. In 2018, Durbin and Booker were instrumental in crafting the First Step Act, which made the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive.
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