MIL-OSI USA: Spartz: The EQUAL Act Reducing Sentencing Disparity Passes House

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House passed the EQUAL Act, a bill that reduces the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine from 18:1 to 1:1, co-sponsored by Congresswoman Spartz.

“Today, we fixed a disparity in sentencing which led to the disproportionate incarceration of lower-income individuals for longer terms,” said Rep. Spartz. “Equality of justice and rights is the cornerstone of our Constitutional Republic, and I am proud to co-sponsor this bill as a member of the Judiciary Committee.” 

Background:

For more than three decades, Federal law codified a sentencing disparity between two forms of the same drug—crack and powder cocaine. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, authored by then Senator Biden, created a 100:1 disparity in the quantity of cocaine necessary to trigger certain mandatory minimums, meaning that distribution of 5 grams of crack cocaine was punished the same as 500 grams of powder cocaine. This disparity was eventually lowered to 18:1 under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 and made retroactive by the First Step Act signed into law by President Trump in 2018. Decades of research show that this sentencing disparity has done nothing to reduce recidivism, improve public safety, or reduce drug use.

The EQUAL Act will end the Federal sentencing distinction between powder and crack cocaine as well as provide retroactive implementation for those individuals already sentenced. Those who were previously convicted under the existing disparity will not be automatically released or have their sentence reduced; however, they will have the right to request a sentence reduction from a Federal judge that must be analyzed under factors already specified by Federal law.

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