SB1010 Equalizes Crack and Powder Cocaine Penalties
Facing its final vote in the Assembly, the California Fair Sentencing Act (SB 1010) authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) won bi-partisan approval on a 49-14 vote today.
Mitchell's bill will correct the groundless disparity in sentencing, probation and asset forfeiture guidelines for possession of crack cocaine for sale versus the same crime involving powder cocaine that has resulted in a pattern of racial discrimination in sentencing and incarceration in California. SB 1010 now moves on to the Senate for a concurrence vote.
"The California NAACP members applaud the legislature for its courageous action on an unpopular issue to reduce the penalty for possession of crack cocaine for sale versus the same crime involving powder cocaine. Twenty years of the War on Drugs and stiff punishment for crack cocaine has created a disparity that is hard to justify, and is racially biased," said Alice A. Huffman, President of the California State Conference of the NAACP.
"While the NAACP does not advocate the use or sale of drugs we advocated for equal justice under the law and parity sentencing for crack and powder cocaine," continued Ms. Huffman.
"We congratulate the California Legislature and will urge the Governor to sign the bill," Ms. Huffman concluded.
Crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug. Scientific reports, including a major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, demonstrate that they have nearly identical effects on the human body. Crack cocaine is a product derived when cocaine powder is processed with an alkali, typically common baking soda. Gram for gram, there is less active drug in crack cocaine than in powder cocaine.
People of color account for over 98 percent of persons sent to California prisons for possession of crack cocaine for sale. From 2005 to 2010, Blacks accounted for 77.4 percent of state prison commitments for crack possession for sale, Latinos accounted for 18.1 percent. Whites accounted for less than 2 percent of all those sent to California prisons in that five year period. Blacks make up 6.6 percent of the population in California; Latinos 38.2 percent, and whites 39.4 percent.
[Founded in 1909, the NAACP - the nation's oldest, largest and most widely-recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization - is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.]