Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Historic Day In Drug Reform

Families Against Mandatory Minimums logo
What an historic day in the long fight for crack sentencing reform! This morning the Obama Administration joined its voice with law enforcement, the judiciary, legal experts, and others in a call to end the disparity between federal crack and powder sentences.  
In a statement before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said that "the Administration believes Congress's goal should be to completely eliminate" the difference in sentencing between the two drugs. Breuer said that the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity is "difficult to justify based on the facts and science," that it "often punishes low-level crack offenders far more harshly than similarly situated powder cocaine offenders," and that the impact of these laws has fueled the belief that our laws are unfair.
His concerns were echoed by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, U.S. Sentencing Commission Acting Chair Richard Hinojosa, former DEA director and Congressman Asa Hutchinson, and Miami Chief of Police John Timoney. In his statement, Timoney emphasized that the distinction between the two drugs defied logic from a law enforcement perspective, saying, "It's the same drug. It's just manufactured differently."
In deeply moving testimony, FAMM member Cedric Parker recounted how the law has affected his sister, Eugenia, who is serving a sentence of almost 22 years for selling crack cocaine. Had she been charged with selling powder cocaine, her sentence would be nearly half that. To read Cedric's testimony, follow this link:http://www.famm.org/TakeAction/CalendarofEvents/USSenatehearingApril292009.aspx
There appears to be agreement among those who execute the law and those who are affected by the law: the disparity must be completely eliminated. The only people who have yet to agree on a solution are those who make the law. 
Unfortunately, the unwarranted and insupportable crack penalties will remain in place and on the books until Congress acts.  There are currently four proposals pending in the House that would address crack cocaine sentencing. No bills have been introduced yet in the Senate. Before any of these bills can become law, they must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.  Keep checking FAMM's "Bills in Congress" page for more information on pending legislation.