Print This Post Print This Post

Crack Cocaine Retroactivity…

Dateline: Wash DC, 30Jun2011: For the second time in 16 years, the US Sentencing Commission is trying to apply a reduction in disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing.  Today, the Commission voted unanimously on a decision to apply the pending crack law retroactively!

Colombian sub: Opps! Where’d the coke go??

Unless Congress intervenes in that decision from becoming law on November 1st, FAMMreports that some 12,040 inmates will be estimated to be eligible for early release from federal prison. Their average age is 36.  Over 85% are black.

Those sentenced with aggravating and mitigating circumstances will not be eligible.  But, this site cautions: We’ve been there before…

Congress passed federal drug laws on cocaine sentencing in 1986 and ’88 with a weight disparity of 100-to-1 between crack and powder cocaine. The essential difference is that crack is perceived as a “black” drug.

The objective differences are basically related to its marketing:  weight vs. volume. Otherwise, both drugs are the same. Crack is manufactured by simply boiling powder coke and baking soda in water and precipitating the “rocks.”

Street-marketwise, whites generally deal in powdered weight measures. Powder coke is usually distributed at a gram and up, starting at about $100. The drug is snorted, the rush is relatively mild, and the high is maintained by the amount one snorts.

Blacks and the poor tend to deal in volume measures. A rock of crack goes for $5 and up, depending on size. The drug is smoked, the rush is faster and greater, and the high is more brief but intense.

Addiction is a psychological phenomenon. Generally, the lower the economic level of an individual (with less social safety-netting), the higher the risk of addictive dysfunction.

Two other major factors that come into the objective history and reality of cocaine, are its profitability and class-political relationships. Profit, of course, is driven by prohibition (criminalization) and demand.

Other articles on this subject can best explain the early history of drugs, race, immigration, corporate media, and the personalities of anti-drug warriors.

Dealing with more recent and experiential history, one can start with the cultural revolution of the 1960s into the ‘80s. Along with post-war fashions and entitlements, long-hair, free-love, and rock ‘n roll, drugs became a significant part of the baby-boomer culture.

It wasn’t long before college students, political activists, and military veterans got into the various trades, including drugs. The more entrepreneurial types rose in the international smuggling markets.

More conservative elements of the same culture rose respectively in banking, corporate and financial services markets, but were heavily influenced by the cash underground [they still are]—usually without the factors that otherwise provide them with a semblance of social consciousness.

Loftier daze…

(Disclosure: Being a military vet (101st Airborne) and a civilian pilot, along with others [e.g., a partner who was a Navy Seal and an oil company submarine commander], my own history includes smuggling marijuana and coke. I can hardly complain that it hasn’t been an interesting life.)

Circa 1983 there was a profound change in the coke market. Elements of the CIA and their contract agents popularized the conversion and distribution of crack cocaine on the West Coast in order to finance Ronald Reagan’s illicit Contra-War in Central America.

Its use in the poor and black communities had a devastating impact. Progressive political elements soon eliminated coke from our product list.

(Ironically, I caught this case five years after my “retirement.” The feds inserted me into a conspiracy of which I was not a member. Due to my “lack of cooperation” [refusing to be a snitch on my former comrades], I was given 25 years.)

Fast forward to October of ’95: The October Rebellion. The largest mass, multi-prison uprising in the history of the US occurred as the result of the first occasion that the Commission tried to institute reforms in crack sentencing schemes.

Unfortunately, at that time there was a joker in the deck: OJ Simpson. The Commission had recommended in May of ’95 to change crack sentencing to a 1-to-1 ratio with powder cocaine. It would have resulted in the early release of some 38,000 crack inmates.

It was all set to be automatically ratified on November 1st, when in October OJ Simpson was found not guilty in a double murder case. Much of the black community erupted in celebration while the white community was in shock.

Congress freaked. They couldn’t do anything about OJ but they could prevent the pending release of 38,000 blacks from prison.  Within weeks they passed legislation prohibiting the change.

Over a dozen prisons went off and the BOP was forced to shut down the entire system for weeks. A blackout on news was imposed by the corporate media (over 90% of the US mass media).

That was 16 years ago. It’s been a slow, grinding uphill climb to get to this point, and even that retains an 18-to-1 sentencing disparity.

We’ll soon see how Congress reacts this time around…

Dr. Publico

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>