Soon, nearly 12,000 inmates in federal prisons across the country will be eligible to have their sentences reduced because of a new law attempting to make penalties for crack possession more consistent with penalties for possession of cocaine.

In the federal prison system, nearly 1 in 17 inmates is in custody as a result of a conviction for crack cocaine. Federal laws have been criticized since the 1980s for being racially discriminatory because of the unequal sentences imposed on those convicted of crack possession or trafficking compared with the sentences imposed on those convicted of cocaine-related offenses. The sentencing guidelines were criticized for being unequally hard on poor and black communities.
Shockingly, statistics show that 85 percent of the inmates expected to benefit from this decision are black. Statistics also show that the average reduction in federal sentences is expected to be approximately 3 years.

The original law was created in 1986 when crack cocaine was first introduced into the inner-city bringing with it  a new wave of crime and violence. As a result, lawmakers came down hard on crack-related offenders. Under that 1986 law, a person receiving a conviction for crack possession received a mandatory prison term equal to someone with 100 times the powdered cocaine amount. Essentially, 5 grams of crack cocaine got the same period of incarceration as 500 grams of powder cocaine.

Purav Bhatt is a criminal defense attorney practicing in Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will counties. He is located in Lincolnwood, Illinois near most Chicago and suburban courthouses including: Skokie, Maywood and Rolling Meadows.

If you or a loved on has been arrested for crack, cocaine or any other drug possession please contact Mr. Bhatt at 773-791-9682 to discuss your matter.

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