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You have to be convicted of moving roughly $500,000 worth of cocaine to trigger

a 5-year sentence. For crack? About $500 worth. These laws punish the lowest-level dealers, 

while providing a loophole that helps those running the trade escape harsh sentences.

 

 

Why are 1 in 9 young Black men in prison?‏

James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Mervyn, Andre, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team

 

The so-called "war on drugs" has created a national disaster: 1 in 9 young Black men in America are now behind bars.1 It's not because they commit more crime but largely because of unfair sentencing rules that treat 5 grams of crack cocaine, the kind found in poor Black communities, the same as 500 grams of powder cocaine2, the kind found in White and wealthier communities.

These sentencing laws are destroying communities across the country and have done almost nothing to reduce the level of drug use and crime.

Senator Joe Biden is one of the original creators of these laws and is now trying to fix the problem.3 But some of his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee are standing in the way. Join us in telling them to stand with Joe Biden and undo this disaster once and for all:

Stop Discriminatory Sentencing

Tell the Senate to support S. 1711

http://colorofchange.org/crackpowder/

At every step in the criminal justice system, Black people are at a disadvantagewe are more likely to be arrested, charged, and convicted, but less likely to have access to good legal representation, and get out of prison on parole.4 While there's no denying that the presence of crack has a hugely negative impact in Black communities across the country, it's clear that the overly harsh crack sentencing laws have done more to feed the broken system than improve our communities.

You have to be convicted of moving roughly $500,000 worth of cocaine to trigger a 5-year sentence.5 For crack? About $500 worth.6 These laws punish the lowest-level dealers, while providing a loophole that helps those running the trade escape harsh sentences.

Recently, attention has turned to these ill-conceived policies as prisons burst at the seams with non-violent drug offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which provides sentencing guidelines for judges, has petitioned Congress numerous times to change the sentencing laws.7 Senator Biden was actually one of the original architects of the disparity, but now he's working to undo the damage with a new bill in Congress (Senate bill 1711). The new law will completely eliminate the sentencing disparity and end the mandatory minimum for crack possession, while increasing funding for drug treatment programs and providing additional resources for investigating and prosecuting major cocaine kingpins.8

But of course, there are foes of this plan. Others want to see the disparity reduced to 20-to-1 or 10-to-1, but not eliminated. As Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance recently said, that "would be like amending the Constitution's three-fifths clause to make African-Americans fourth-fifths citizens or desegregating 60 percent of public establishments instead of all of them."9 Senators on the Judiciary Committee need to hear that there is strong support for a full elimination of the disparity.

We can take this opportunity to join the Sentencing Commission and countless other advocates in calling on Congress to change this unjust law. Please join us: http://colorofchange.org/crackpowder/

Thank You and Peace,James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Mervyn, Andre, and the rest of the Color of Change Team

March 26th, 2008

References

1. "1 in 100 U.S. Adults Behind Bars, New Study Says," New York Times, 02-28-08
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/us/28cnd-prison.html

2. "Crack/Cocaine Sentencing Disparity," Drug Policy Alliance
http://www.drugpolicy.org/drugwar/mandatorymin/crackpowder.cfm

3. "Legislative Proposals for Reform of the Crack/Cocaine Disparity," Drug Policy Alliance, 09-07-07
http://www.drugpolicy.org/library/factsheets/raceandthedr/crack_cocaine.cfm

4. "Annotated Bibliography: Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System," Sentencing Project
http://tinyurl.com/297waj

5. "Cocaine Price/Purity Analysis of STRIDE Data," Drug Enforcement Agency
http://www.dea.gov/concern/cocaine_prices_purity.html

6. "Cocaine Addiction," Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center
http://www.dual-diagnosis-treatment-center.com/cocaine-addiction.html

7. "BIDEN Calls for an End to Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity," Biden for Senate, 02-13-08
http://tinyurl.com/2bb959

8. See reference 3.

9. "Congress to Hold Historic Hearing Tuesday on Draconian 100-to-1 Crack/Powder Sentencing Disparity," Drug Policy Alliance, 02-25-08
http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/pressroom/pr022508.cfm

Additional resources:

"Race and the Drug War," Drug Policy Alliance
http://www.drugpolicy.org/communities/race/

"Federal Crack Cocaine Sentencing," The Sentencing Project
http://www.sentencingproject.org/PublicationDetails.aspx?PublicationID=573

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BIDEN Calls for an End to Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity—Our intentions were good, but much of our information was bad. Each of the myths upon which we based the sentencing disparity has since been dispelled or altered. We now know: 

  • Crack and powder cocaine are pharmacologically identical. They are simply two forms of the same drug. 

  • Crack and powder cocaine cause identical physiological and psychological effects once they reach the brain. 

  • Both forms of cocaine are potentially addictive.

  • The two drugs’ effects on a fetus are identical. The “generation of crack babies” many predicted has not come to pass. In fact, some research shows that the prenatal effects of alcohol exposure are “significantly more devastating to the developing fetus than cocaine.” 

  • Crack simply does not incite the type of violence that we feared. Gangs that deal in other types of drugs are every bit as violent as the crack gangs.

“After 21 years of study and review, these facts have convinced me that the 100-to-1 disparity cannot be supported and that the penalties for crack and powder cocaine trafficking merit similar treatment under the law.Biden.Senate Press Statement

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Race and the Drug War—Once arrested, people of color are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than whites. The best-known example of the inequality in sentencing is the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentences. Crack and powder cocaine have the same active ingredient, but crack is marketed in less expensive quantities and in lower income communities of color. A five gram sale of crack cocaine receives a five-year federal mandatory minimum sentence, while an offender must sell 500 grams of powder cocaine to get the same sentence. In 1986, before the enactment of federal mandatory minimum sentencing for crack cocaine offenses, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 11 percent higher than for whites. Four years later, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 49 percent higher.Drug Policy

posted 27 March 2008

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.—Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

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The Heart of Whiteness

By Robert Jensen

The first, and perhaps most crucial, fear is that of facing the fact that some of what we white people have is unearned. It's a truism that we don't really make it on our own; we all have plenty of help to achieve whatever we achieve. That means that some of what we have is the product of the work of others, distributed unevenly across society, over which we may have little or no control individually. No matter how hard we work or how smart we are, we all know—when we are honest with ourselves—that we did not get where we are by merit alone. And many white people are afraid of that fact. A second fear is crasser: White people's fear of losing what we have—literally the fear of losing things we own if at some point the economic, political, and social systems in which we live become more just and equitable.Robert Jensen  

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 7 February 2012

 

 

 

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