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Bishops back EQUAL Act on drug-crime sentencing

August 04, 2022

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CWN Editor's Note: The chairmen of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism have lent their support to the EQUAL Act (H.R.1693, S.79), which would eliminate the disparity in sentencing for different forms of cocaine. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) sponsored the legislation in the House, where it passed in a 361-66 vote; Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) is the bill’s sponsor in the Senate.

“Current laws establish an 18-to-1 ratio on federal penalties for crack and powder cocaine, meaning anyone found with 28 grams of crack cocaine would face the same five-year mandatory prison sentence as a person found with 500 grams of powder cocaine,” Bloomberg reported.

“The USCCB has long advocated in favor of less severe sentences for non-violent drug offenses, expressing our concerns regarding mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal legal system,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City and Archbishop Shelton Fabre of Louisville. “We urge you to make a meaningful, if narrow, improvement in this regard by passing the EQUAL Act, which rectifies unnecessary and arbitrary differences in cocaine sentencing.”

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