As a result, an entire generation of young, poor, mostly black men is spending large chunks of time behind bars, some for no more than holding a few rocks.
In three previous reports to Congress, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has called for less severe penalties for crack cocaine defendants. As far back as 1995, the Commission wrote in its report to Congress:
Such a vast difference in the quantity of drug necessary to trigger the same sentence would be acceptable if the threat of increased dangers and harms created by crack versus powder cocaine appeared commensurate. Yet, even though crack is arguably more addictive than powder, when the latter is only snorted, the Commission cannot say that the increased likelihood of dependency or binge use posed by crack is commensurate with a ratio differential as great as 100-to-1.
Proponents of reform include the American Bar Association, advocacy groups, academics and lawmakers. The Sentencing Project issued this briefing sheet on the issue.