Race and Criminal Justice
The effect of the War on Drugs on communities of color has been tragic: Sentencing disparities and selective enforcement of drug laws mean that there are more black people under the control of prison and corrections departments today than were ever enslaved by this country. Despite the fact that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than blacks do, blacks are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate that is 10 times greater than that of whites.
Some progress has been made: In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), which represents a decade-long, bipartisan effort to reduce the racial disparities caused by draconian crack cocaine sentencing laws and restore confidence in the criminal justice system—particularly in communities of color. And in 2011, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to retroactively apply the new FSA guidelines to individuals sentenced before the law was enacted. This decision will help ensure that over 12,000 people—85 percent of whom are black—will have the opportunity to have their sentences for crack cocaine offenses reviewed by a federal judge and possibly reduced.
But there is still much to be done. It’s time to end the unjust, un-American, and unsuccessful War on Drugs.
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