In many of my posts I reference Crackheads that I encounter while out and about and in most cases they are probably not Crackheads. I assume that in most cases that they are actually homeless but with Crackish ways.
I know that I’m being ingnant’ by using the terms Crackhead & homeless interchangeably but… Maybe I should be more considerate of this especially when I was homeless as a child a few times as my mother floated in & out of bad to abusive relationships.[Switching to third person for no apparent reason] Did you know that Bygbaby once spent the summer of 1983 (3rd grade) in a woman’s shelter (YWCA Downtown Detroit). He remembers looking out of the window of the room where he, Topot (younger brother) & Baby (younger sister) slept to see the Fox theater which was dilapidated and under construction. Everyday was grey as he remembers. [Leaving third person now]
I remember my last day in the shelter & will never forget it as long as I live. It was almost like I was being delivered from the depths of hell. What makes this day memorable is not just the fact that it was my last day but also the 1st time I went the movies since leaving Birmingham, the first time I ever went to a video arcade & the 1st time I ate Reese’s Pieces (my favorites candy to this day).
The theater I went to was the Adams Theater (closed in the late 80’s) & I saw “Escape from New York” & “The Howling” (double feature; remember those), both very inappropriate for a child of only 8 years of age. The arcade I visited was located in the Renaissance Center (Now GM world head quarters) & I do not remember the name of it nor do I recall playing any games. What I do remember was being in awe of what I thought was the world’s tallest mirrored building.
When I started this post I was specifically to only going to talk about the recent ACLU report on Crack Cocaine Report: The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. I got a little to deep in thought on my past sorry.
Getting back to my intended point: This report is an eye opener on the racial disparities in sentencing Black drug dealers vs their white counterparts. I found a lot of the information shocking to be honest. I urge you to read the report in its entirety & pass the information on.
WASHINGTON – To mark the 20th anniversary of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the American Civil Liberties Union today issued the report, “Cracks in the System: Twenty Years of the Unjust Federal Crack Cocaine Law.” The report details discriminatory effects of the drug law that devastated African American and low-income communities.
“This anniversary marks two decades of a tragic mistake, when lawmakers allowed emotion to overtake reason.” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The result is a drug policy that makes a false distinction between powdered and crack cocaine and perpetuates a racial caste system when it comes to our criminal justice system.”
One of the report’s key findings indicates that sentencing policies, particularly the mandatory minimum for low-level crack offenses, subject people who are low-level participants to the same or harsher sentences as major dealers. As law enforcement focused its efforts on crack offenses, a dramatic shift occurred in the incarceration trends for African Americans, relative to the rest of the nation. This trend effectively transformed federal prisons into institutions increasingly dedicated to incarcerating African Americans.
The report also explains that there is no rational medical reason for the 100-to-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine, and instead causes an unjustified racial disparity in our penal system.
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, passed during the media frenzy following the death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, established mandatory minimum sentences for possession of specific amounts of cocaine. However, it also established a 100-to-1 disparity between distribution of powder and crack cocaine. For example, distributing just five grams of crack carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence, while distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence. The discrepancy remains despite repeated recommendations by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to Congress to reconsider the penalties.
Because of its relative low cost, crack cocaine is more accessible to poor people, many of whom are African Americans. Conversely, powder cocaine is much more expensive and tends to be used by more affluent white Americans.
The report includes recent data that indicates that African Americans make up 15 percent of the country’s drug users, yet they make up 37 percent of those arrested for drug violations, 59 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison for a drug offense. More than 80 percent of the defendants sentenced for crack offenses are African American, despite the fact that more than 66 percent of crack users are white or Hispanic.
Prior to the enactment of federal mandatory minimum sentencing for crack cocaine offenses in 1986, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 11 percent higher than for whites. Four years later, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 49 percent higher.
“The law’s goal of targeting high-level drug traffickers failed,” Fredrickson added. “Congress made it clear that by passing the current mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine, it intended to target major drug traffickers. The opposite is true: mandatory penalties for crack cocaine offenses apply most often to offenders who are low-level participants in the drug trade. For example, data from the Sentencing Commission shows that 73 percent of crack defendants have only low-level involvement in drug activity, such as street-level dealers, couriers or lookouts.”
The report, authored by Deborah J. Vagins, Policy Counsel for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Jesselyn McCurdy, Legislative Counsel, makes the following policy recommendations. The quantities of crack cocaine that trigger federal prosecution and sentencing must be equalized with, and increased to, the current levels of powder cocaine. Federal prosecutions should focus on high-level traffickers of both crack and powder cocaine. And mandatory minimums for crack and powder offenses, especially the mandatory minimum for simple possession, should be eliminated.
View the entire “Cracks in the System: Twenty Years of the Unjust Federal Crack Cocaine Law,” report here
From the report
A few Crack myths:
- Crack Causes Violent Behavior
- Crack is “Instantly” Addictive
- Mothers Will Give Birth to “Crack Babies”
A few Crack facts
- Sentencing policies, particularly the mandatory minimum for low-level crack offenses, subject women who are low-level participants to the same or harsher sentences as the major dealers in a drug organization
- There is no rational medical or penological reason for the 100:1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine, and instead it causes an unjustified racial disparity in our penal system
- African Americans now serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense at 58.7 months, as whites do for a violent offense at 61.7 month