California Fair Sentencing Act Signed Into Law

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

California Gov. Jerry Brown Sunday signed into law the Fair Sentencing Act, which will undo racial disparities in the sentencing of cocaine offenders underfsa laws passed during the crack cocaine hysteria of the 1980s. Brown did not issue a signing statement.

The law, Senate Bill 1010, eliminates sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses. It also eliminates related disparities in probation and asset forfeiture guidelines for those offenses.

“Whether sold as crack or powder, used on the street or in a corporate penthouse, the penalty for cocaine use should be the same for everybody,” said Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), chair of California’s Legislative Black Caucus. “My bill establishes fairness in sentencing. We must break the drug-driven cycle of arrest, lock-up, unemployability and re-arrest,” Mitchell went on to say. “The law isn’t supposed to be a pipeline that disproportionately channels the young, urban and unemployed into jail and joblessness.”

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California Fair Sentencing Act Passes Assembly

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.com

The California Assembly today approved the Fair Sentencing Act, which would remove the legal disparity in the treatment of crack and powder cocaine offenders under state law.

California Fair Sentencing Act sponsor Sen. Holly Mitchell (senate.ca.gov)
California Fair Sentencing Act sponsor Sen. Holly Mitchell (senate.ca.gov)

The measure, Senate Bill 1010, has already passed the state Senate. It goes back to the Senate for a pro forma concurrence vote, and then on to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

The bill would remove not only sentencing disparities, but also disparities in the guidelines for probation and asset forfeiture in cases of possession of cocaine for sale. The disparities have resulted in a pattern of racial discrimination in sentencing and imprisonment in the state.

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President Obama Commutes Sentences For 8 Drug Convictions, Calls for Sentencing Reform

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of eight people he said were serving unduly harsh drug sentences in the obamamost expansive use yet of his power to free inmates.

All eight were sentenced under old federal guidelines that treated convictions for crack cocaine offenses harsher than those involving the powder form of the drug. Obama also pardoned 13 others for various crimes.

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