Target Audience: Information professionals in law schools, government libraries, prison libraries
1) Participants will be able to track the history of the Anti-Abuse Act of 1986, which created the disparity between U.S. federal criminal penalties for crack cocaine and powder cocaine, to the recently passed Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduces that disparity.
2) Participants will be able to analyze the potential impact that the new legislation is expected to have in predominately low-income, African-American communities.
Since the late 1980s, increasingly more severe sentencing has been applied to the possession or distribution of crack cocaine, which is more often associated with low-income, African-American communities. However, while African-American defendants account for roughly 80 percent of those arrested and jailed for crack-related offenses, public health data reveals that two-thirds of crack cocaine users are more likely to be white or Hispanic. For a first-time trafficking offense involving five grams or more of crack cocaine, or 500 grams or more of powder cocaine, the statutory penalty range was five to 40 years of imprisonment. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 set out to reduce the racial disparity in sentencing for crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. Attendees will discover the motivation behind the original legislation that created the sentencing disparity and the implications of the new legislation for low-income, African-American communities.