Crack, powder cocaine sentence guidelines adjusted

AP News
Posted: Oct 15, 2010 5:49 PM
Crack, powder cocaine sentence guidelines adjusted

Federal sentencing guidelines have been revised to conform to a law that reduced a wide gap between prison terms for crack cocaine and powder cocaine convictions.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted 6-1 Friday to approve a temporary amendment to federal guidelines.

Earlier this year, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act. It changed a 25-year-old law that authorized the same mandatory prison term for having 5 grams of crack cocaine as for possessing 500 grams, or 100 times more, powder cocaine. Critics said the old law discriminated against blacks, who outnumbered whites among crack users.

The new law reduced the ratio to 18-1 and eliminated mandatory sentences for possessing less than 28 grams of crack cocaine.

A permanent amendment must be submitted to Congress by May.