IN THE NEWS: Judges Can Reduce Crack Sentences
There has been a long-standing debate about the disparity of sentencing for what have been perceived as Black (crack cocaine) and White (powder cocaine) crimes. Those in possession of crack cocaine have often received harsher prison sentences than those convicted of possessing powder cocaine. The way things played out, Blacks (for example) could go to jail for a longer time for possessing less cocaine than Whites, who may have been found with more powder cocaine.
The Supreme Court decision was announced ahead of a vote scheduled for Tuesday by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets the guidelines, that could cut prison time for up to an estimated 19,500 federal inmates currently convicted of crack crimes.
The Sentencing Commission recently changed the guidelines to reduce the disparity in prison time for the two crimes. New guidelines took effect Nov. 1 after Congress took no action to overturn the change. Tuesday's vote is whether to apply the guidelines retroactively.