Crack Cocaine-Back to the Future

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Crack Cocaine-Back To The Future

Why” The Fair Sentencing Act” Won't Work

Angelique Marquez

ENG 122

Bernadette Anayah

October 25, 2010
The argument presented in the course of this paper is that the Fair Sentencing Act of

2010 is a BAD idea and should never have been enacted. Further, the argument will establish the

fact that the reason the Fair Sentencing Act is a BAD idea is that crack cocaine is FAR more

dangerous to abuse than powdered cocaine because of its physical, mental and addictive nature,

including the bizarre behavior patterns it creates. Thus, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which

removes a mandatory jail sentence of 5 years for those convicted of crack cocaine possession,

places all Americans with the unwanted chance to go “back to the future” and re-experience a

crack cocaine nightmare.

It seems almost incongruous that it took our Congress and various Presidents almost

forty years to affect a national healthcare plan for America. At long last, less fortunate

Americans will be able to receive a modicum of dignity by being able to see a doctor when they

or their families are sick and need a doctor’s care, and they do not have the necessary funds to

seek treatment. (Silverleib, A. CNN Politics, 2010, March 21) That being said, it took President

Obama and the current Congress less than a year to amend a law that NEVER should have

been questioned or changed by enacting the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. (Baker, P. New York

Times, 2010, August 3) This new bill amended the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that was created

at the height of what was described at that time, as a crack cocaine epidemic. (Inciardi, J. 1994)

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act established and insured prosecution and mandatory 5 year jail terms

for offenders apprehended with 5 grams of crack cocaine or more. (Sterling, E. and Stewart, J.

2006) During this period, horrific crimes committed by mindless “crack” users were reported

daily. Homicides, robberies, and aggravated batteries doubled. (Levitt, S. and Murphy, K. 2006)

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act took no notice of race, creed, color, or national origin. The act only

addressed the damage being done to society. The punishment fit the crime. Crime rates dropped

dramatically and it was apparent to law enforcement officials and the government that the Anti-

Drug Abuse Act was doing exactly what it was intended to do. (Sterling, E and Stewart, J. 2006)

However as the years passed, studies revealed that 80% of those incarcerated because of crack

cocaine were African Americans who served substantially more time in prison than did whites,

despite the fact that more than 2/3 of users in the United States are white or Hispanic. (NAACP

Criminal Justice Fact Sheet, 2009) As a candidate, Barack Obama championed the cause of

the Fair Sentencing Act, and in August 2010, as President, he signed the bill into law. (Baker, P.

New York Times, 2010, August 3)

The sad commentary is that this new law was created to level the playing field for

African Americans, Hispanics and poor whites because disproportionate sentences were being

handed out for possession of crack cocaine as opposed to sentences for possession of powdered

cocaine. In fact, the disparity was 500 grams of powdered cocaine possession to receive the

mandatory 5 year jail term as opposed to 5 grams of crack cocaine. (United States Department of

Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, 2003) The sentiment raised was that those persons...
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