mandatory sentences between crack cocaine and powder cocaine convictions.
The 25 year-old law that Congress just changed subjected tens of thousands of blacks to long
prison terms for crack cocaine convictions while giving far more lenient sentences to those,
mainly whites, caught with the powder form.
Blacks serve almost as much time for drug offenses (58 months) as whites do for violent
offenses (61 months). Though this new law is a congressional compromise, it is a huge step
forward in reforming our overly harsh and wasteful drug laws.
The old 1986 law was enacted at a time when crack cocaine was considered a violent drug.
However, in 2002, twenty-eight U.S. Court of Appeals judges and many District Court Judges
who were formerly U.S. Attorneys, wrote the Sentencing Commission condemning the notion as
not scientifically accurate and recommended its repeal.
There’s still much work to be done as the law applies to only federal defendants, not state laws.
Most drug arrests occur at the state level.
We started this journey for justice in 2001. Our many trips to Washington, DC were covered
by the Dothan Eagle, WTVY, WDHN, Southeast Gazette and Rickey Stokes News. Local and
regional debates followed with law enforcement officials that wanted to keep the Draconian
Laws. The door opens again for those who have not participated in reform to join in doing
so now. Otherwise they will be looked upon as preserving a racial caste system that was
abolished with chattel slavery.
We must continue to locally address related issues like lack of family support, ministry and
rehabilitation of those incarcerated because of repressive attitudes toward “lawbreakers”, even
after being “punished”. How long will we allow local political culture to shape our local social
culture by discretionary drug enforcement practice here–the real morally and socially unjust
behavior that destroys lives?
Pastor Kenneth Glasgow
Founder, Executive Director
The Ordinary People Society (TOPS)
403 West Powell St. Dothan, AL 36303
Office / Fax: 334-671-2882