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October 31, 2007

Powder vs. Crack

An op-ed piece in the Washington Times today by former Representative J.C Watts and Justice Fellowship’s Pat Nolan introduced me to the concept of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, particularly in trafficking powder and crack cocaine. The editorial said that our justice system needs a more objective approach in prosecuting people who traffic cocaine and needs to address the current 100-1 disparity in sentences between crack and powder cocaine.

If I’m a cocaine dealer, possessing 5 grams of crack might get me the same sentence as a terrorist arms dealers and it will take 100 times that weight in powder form to get someone the same sentence. Unfortunately, this disparity fails to target high-level drug dealers, and often sends low-level drug offenders to jail and unexpectedly produces racial discrimination. The majority of prisoners under this mandatory minimum law are African American and most are small-time street dealers, couriers and lookouts and not the drug kingpins that long prison sentences should be reserved for. It also misses biblical principles of justice and punishment as told in Exodus 21:24 and Matthew 5:38 that states that punishment should match the crime.

I am not condoning illegal drugs; however, the justice system needs to hit the right target in the war against them.

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