The 5-year mandatory sentence given to those with as little as 5 grams of crack cocaine – the same mandatory sentence given to those with 500 grams of powder cocaine – was considered unfair. The disparity causes a lot of African-Americans involved in non-violent drug-related cases to serve the same amount of sentence as Caucasian, violent offenders.
This disparity was reformed by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, reducing the 100:1 ratio all the way to 18:1 in an attempt to provide fairer sentencing. According to experts from the online criminal justice program of Portland State University, however, the 18:1 ratio is still causing US prisons to be overcrowded by those sentenced under the new law.
A further reform is underway, known as the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015. This new reform will bring more balance to the situation as well as reduce the number of people serving in federal prisons.
Be sure to learn more about the Sentencing Reform Act from Portland State University’s infographic to find out how the new law affects our legal and prison systems.