WASHINGTON — Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, is partnering with FAMM to launch the #EndTheDisparity campaign and to urge Congress to eliminate the disparity between how crack and powder cocaine-related offenses are punished. Both organizations are circulating petitions and are planning a series of activities to build public support for reform.
“We have been fighting to repeal unjust sentencing laws for 30 years, and we’ve seen no greater injustice than the crack-powder disparity,” FAMM President Kevin Ring said. “We were glad Congress reduced the disparity in 2010, but it’s time to finish the job. We must remove this racially discriminatory scheme from the criminal code.”
In 2010, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the crack-powder disparity from 100:1 to 18:1. Lawmakers acknowledged that the arguments for the original disparity had been proven incorrect; crack cocaine is no more addictive than powder and is not more likely to cause violent crime.
“The unequal treatment of crack and powder cocaine offenses is among the most glaring examples of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system,” Heather Rice-Minus, senior vice president of advocacy and church mobilization for prison fellowship, said. “There is no sound scientific reason why we should punish powder and cocaine offenses differently and, more importantly, there is a moral imperative to repent from this injustice.”
Uncontroverted was the fact that lengthy mandatory minimum prison terms for crack offenses disproportionately harmed black people. More than 80 percent of federal crack convictions involved black defendants. While the Fair Sentencing Act greatly reduced the number of people subject to the mandatory minimum sentences for crack, black people still make up more than 80 percent of federal crack convictions.
The Prison Fellowship/FAMM joint #EndTheDisparity campaign launch began with a tweet storm that started Thursday and can be followed on both FAMM and Prison Fellowship’s twitter accounts. The tweet storm was followed by a Facebook live discussion on FAMM’s Heart to Heart series.
For more information and background on the disparity and campaign see Ending the Disparity between Crack & Powder Cocaine Sentencing and The Justice Chronicles: Racial Inequity videos.
FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues across the country.
Prison Fellowship is the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners and their families, and a leading voice for criminal justice reform. With more than 40 years of experience helping restore men and women behind bars, Prison Fellowship advocates for federal and state criminal justice reforms that transform those responsible for crime, validate victims, and encourage communities to play a role in creating a safe, redemptive, and just society.