Bill to Eliminate the Crack and Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity Passes House Floor Vote

Press Release May 9, 2005
Media Contact

Robert Rooks at (203) 435-6979 or Michael Blain at (646) 335-2241

HARTFORD – Today, a bill that would eliminate the disparity in Connecticut’s crack and powder cocaine law was overwhelmingly approved in a house floor vote, with 93 votes for and 52 votes against. Currently, it takes 28 grams (28g) of powder cocaine to trigger the same mandatory minimum as half a gram of crack, even though they are two forms of the same drug.

HB 5076, an act concerning the illegal sale or possession of cocaine with intent to sell, is co-sponsored by Connecticut legislators State Rep Marie Kirkley-Bey, (D – Hartford) and Faith McMahon, (D, Bloomfield). HB 5076 calls for the amount of cocaine that subjects a person to a stiff mandatory minimum to be one ounce or more regardless of whether the cocaine is crack or powder cocaine. “This disparity is destructive to communities of color in particular,” said Robert Rooks of the Connecticut Alliance, a coalition of community organizations working to end the war on drugs. “If policy makers want to support racial justice, then they should end the obscene sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.”

Connecticut is one of thirteen states with similar cocaine sentencing distinctions. This legislation was supported by Connecticut’s Black and Latino Caucus. “The harm this sentencing distinction has done to communities of color in Connecticut is shocking,” said Michael Blain of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Connecticut legislators are making a bold statement by taking this first step toward ending racial disparity and the drug war in Connecticut.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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