Cocaine Use Equalized at Last

The House of Representatives passed a historic bill Wednesday that narrows sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine convictions, which civil rights and civil liberties experts say contributed to the disproportionate imprisonment of African-Americans in recent decades.

I noted that the vote was a ‘voice vote’ so that the members could not be held responsible for voting either way.  How’s that for chicken-shit behavior?

Those supporting the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 wanted to punish black crack users without too much damage to users of the white power [whites] in the process.  The legislation passed both houses 489-18. I wonder why the 18 voted no.

At the signing of this bill, President Reagan said,

Well, today it gives me great pleasure to sign legislation that reflects the total commitment of the American people and their government to fight the evil of drugs. Drug use extracts a high cost on America: the cost of suffering and unhappiness, particularly among the young; the cost of lost productivity at the workplace; and the cost of drug-related crime. Drug use is too costly for us not to do everything in our power, not just to fight it but to subdue it and conquer it.

Subdue and conquer it.  So much for that dream.  Seems like that phony ‘war on drugs’ turned out to be as ineffective as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  For those on the right-wing of our political spectrum, their dream of locking up thousands of black men and keeping them out of society seemed to work.  Now that the penalty has been reduced, one wonders what their next plan will be to keep the black population in ‘check.’

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13 thoughts on “Cocaine Use Equalized at Last

  1. Steve, that was very interesting article. It kind of echoes and refers to what I was saying in my post regarding Sepps comments in the Afghani war wikileaks thread….and why we are on the subject, how does this relate to Mexico and its drug gang war anarchy and this societies insane repression in the face of its own insatiable appetite for drugs?
    “We have met the enemy and they is us”…Walt Kelley…POGO

  2. More and more of this “black people are put down” crap. Why is it that if I say nigger i’m reprimanded and chastised but if I saw cracker people laugh? Why is it there there are a black and Hispanic caucus in congress and not a white one? Is it because of decades of racism? GET OVER IT! Says this American (who happens to be Hispanic).

  3. I’m not sure where fonso’s comment is coming from since the powder/crack issue is a rich-poor issue, which means poor whites

    AND EVEN HISPANICS

    are effected by this issue.

    Of course, he is to busy thinking in terms of black and white.

    Anyway, the problem is that this does effect the poor in disproportion to the rich, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

    I think the war on drugs is a much more complicated issue than people understand. There are far too many parties who benefit from it to want to end it (myself included as a criminal defence lawyer).

  4. Drug enforcment and imprisonment have become sort of a jobs program / money making scheme.

    Within the last couple of years I’ve finaly come to realize that just about every aspect of American life is fraudulent and corrupt. Because the corruption is top down.. directed at us from our political and business leaders I’ve come to understand and appreciate all those rap songs about the “Thug Life”. So on my way to school, I generally drive down Dorr street near downtown.. passing by many many low income housing projects.. seeing all the dealers milling about – basically making less than minimum wage – come rain, snow, or shine.. And I’ve come to admire that work ethic. That guy risks life and limb and prison time to what amounts to about 4 dollars an hours (according to the first freakonomics book). But our crooked overloards get stock options and a slap on the wrist by a congressional show trial. Fuck it.. the only way to get ahead in the U.S. is to be a crook.

    I saw on “Nightline” last night the segment about the immigration problem and its effect on border towns. In a small blurb they showed some church goers singing praises to Jesus.. and then in following interviews the same people talked about keeping the Mexicans out. So I immediately thought that it would make a great satire to show the harrowing trip of “Jesus”, making his way to the promised land of el-norte. He finally arrives, dehydrated and starving at the steps of a Texas church.. the church goers come out and instead of feed and give him water.. they hurl insults and spit at him and call the border patrol to send him packing back to Mexico.. Sorry Jesus!

    But alas.. Jesus General beat me to it with the same idea LOL!

    But on the other hand.. The illicid drug consumption of the US along with the otherside of the coin – the illigality of drugs and our Narco / corporate prison business – keeps prices astronomical and make traffiking the most lucritive business in the world. This is creating a super criminal army in Mexico that is spilling over into the US – in sort of an invasion of the most violent and heartless elements of Mexican drug gangs. But just like we refuse to see that it would cost a lot less to educate and raise up our own innercity communities vs sending them to prison.. we also fail to see that it would cost a lot less – in blood and treasure – to treat drug abuse as a healthcare issue vs a criminal issue. America is sinking under the weight of our own arrogance and hypocrisy.

  5. The reason crack carried a stiffer penalty was based upon it’s potency that made becomming an addict worse than street grade powder coke. Black men went to jail in mass quantites because they were the ones who were buying the powder and cooking it into crack and selling it on streetcorners in the open.
    Late 80’s and early 90’s Curtis st in the south end was bumper to bumper cars buying crack from dealers who were acting like carnival barkers from the sidewalks.
    Why was crack the drug of choice for black dealers? Because they could triple their money by cooking it into crack, it was easier to measure, easier to hide and, if you tossed it while running from the cops, you could go back later and pick the rock back up…try that with powder!

    “The House of Representatives passed a historic bill Wednesday that narrows sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine convictions, which civil rights and civil liberties experts say contributed to the disproportionate imprisonment of African-Americans in recent decades.”

    Can’t do the time, don’t do the crime right? As if blacks weren’t allowed to sell anything else?
    Or, how about personal decisions? Personal responsibility? Personal choice?

    Or, god forbid I go there how about the black community? I know a former crackhead and asked him how he always managed to find a crackhouse in a strange neighborhood…his answer? “Just ask somebody!…everyone there knows who the dealer is”.
    A cop told me that catching the sidewalk dealers was like “swatting flies” but, in order to nail a crackhouse, they just looked for white people going to houses and made a note of how many / how often. Anonymus tips via crimestopper? Rare if ever.

    IMO, if the govt is going to make the penalty on par, they should just raise them both to the same instead of lowering one to the other.

  6. Sepp- IMO, if the govt is going to make the penalty on par, they should just raise them both to the same instead of lowering one to the other.

    You are a hard-ass right-winger, Sepp. Throw them ALL in prison so that you feel so much safer and won’t have to deal with ‘them’ in society.

    Steve- I understand your pessimism about all-things USA. I, too, am becoming depressed at all of the schemes that people have to move forward- especially on the backs of the lower classes. And that Jesus you described– spot on! These [c]hristian fools wouldn’t recognize him if he moved in next door. Thanks for your insight, Steve.

  7. I was thinking about this today. Between 1850 and 1860 – the underground railroad was at its zenith. Historians estimate that more than 100,000 fugitive slaves (breaking the law) made their way north via the illegal underground railroad.. Which was almost an exclusive informal operation organized by various Christian denominations at the time. Imagine that, Christians breaking the law in order to accomplish the higher moral good. Because back then, they truly believed Jesus’s words when he said:

    “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”

  8. Imagine that, Christians breaking the law in order to accomplish the higher moral good.

    I wonder, Steve, if these were a different breed of Christians back then? Do you supposed there was some sort of [gulp] evolution in the Christian message from that era to this? And if so, what do you supposed was the cause of the morphing?

  9. Right, I forgot Mud, I don’t fit the mold of what liberals expect Hispanics to be (uneducated, dependent on welfare, alleged victim of racism, Democrat). I don’t cry racism and therefore I’m not a typical Hispanic…I’m pretty proud of that. Proud of the fact that everything I have I worked my ass off for. Proud that I took my personal responsibility and succeeded. Proud that I did not let liberals trick me into thinking that government was the solution. Proud that I’m a good man, a good father, a successful student. Proud to be me…an American. Not an Hispanic American. Not a Mexican American. Just an American.

  10. Fonso, I like that you call yourself an American, without the Hispanic, or Mexican before hand. I wish that everyone felt that way. Why is it such a big important deal to have to categorize ourselves according to our skin color or lineage, and then be verbally called that in description. It only further creates the division in races, I feel. We are more alike as human beings than we are different. We are Americans.

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