Sen. Durbin Takes on Crack Myths and The Washington Post

On Saturday, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) had a letter to the editor published in The Washington Post that challenged claims the newspaper made in a recent editorial on crack cocaine sentencing reform. The Post’s editorial cautioned Congress against fully eliminating the infamous and deeply discriminatory 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, resorting to the same tired myths that have been thoroughly debunked in the 23 years since the law’s enactment. What I personally found so confusing about the Post editorial was that it was only this past July that the newspaper published a very strong editorial — “Cocaine Justice” — in which they praised Congress for moving forward towards fairness in our sentencing laws.

Perhaps the Post felt compelled to write their editorial because momentum for ending this longstanding injustice in our criminal justice system has never been stronger than it is today. The House Judiciary Committee sent legislation that would eliminate the distinction between crack and powder under federal law on to the full chamber for a vote on the House floor. In the Senate, Sen. Durbin, along with nearly a dozen colleagues, recently introduced S. 1789, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2009. The Fair Sentencing Act would also eliminate the disparity between the two forms of the same drug. If all of that wasn’t promising enough, President Obama and the Department of Justice stand strongly behind efforts to eliminate the disparity.

It wouldn’t have been too long ago that an editorial like the Post’s would have sent our elected officials running for political cover. Instead, Sen. Durbin stood tall and addressed the myths head on. The New York Times explored one such myth — that of a generation of so-called “crack babies” — earlier this year. It is clear that the science and our understanding of crack and powder cocaine have greatly advanced over the previous two decades. It is both illogical and unfair to contain imposing grossly disparate sentences for what are, in effect, the exact same drugs. The simple fact that a prominent member of the U.S. Senate was willing to say as much shows just how far we have come on this issue politically, as well as scientifically.

Here’s hoping that as Congress continues to make strides towards finally eliminating this injustice The Washington Post will reconsider their current wishy-washy, myth-based position.

Add a comment (6)
Read the Terms of Use

Maggie

Reading a study and debunking myths are a far cry from actually seeing loved ones caught up in drugs. Drugs do not discriminate they will take all colors, sizes, shapes and what ever else you can throw at it. But by all means let's make sure we eliminate this injustice.

roald

Maggie, I completely agree with you in regards addictive drugs, legal and not.

Thomas J. Hillg...

But if we really want to elevate the conversation and make the necessary distinctions, we need to stop talking about "drugs." We need to get specific. Of course, specificity would require educating ourselves about "drugs." And that is the point!

Maggie

The majority of the time those who are "educated" and set themselves above everyone else tend to not be willing to accept their addictions. They are too smart for that.

Anonymous

i thought yall was suppose to be talking about drug laws

Anonymous

what is this stuff above a waste of space please remove i have serious questions

Sign Up for Breaking News