Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crack in the States

The Feds' recent changes to the crack-powder cocaine disparity prompted two reporters to ask:  What's the disparity in the states?

Denise Lavoie and Bill Draper report their findings in this AP article.

If you thought the federal crack disparity resulted in some crazy cases, this article proves it can happen in some state courts, too:

Dan Viets, a Missouri defense attorney who handles a lot of drug cases, has a client who was convicted last month of trafficking 9 grams of crack and faces a prison term of 10 years to life when he is sentenced in October.

"The effect of having these incredibly harsh crack cocaine laws is we have a great deal more African-Americans behind bars in this state for crack offenses," Viets said.

"It's just another form of cocaine, after all," he said. "The hysteria around crack cocaine in the '80s pretty much has been disproved."
Not in Missouri, apparently.  Those of us working in sentencing reform are really trying to work ourselves out of a job -- when there are no more unjust sentencing laws, we'll all have to find something else to do.  With 50 states out there, it looks like we'll unfortunately have jobs for a long time coming.