Houston Community Activists to Discuss Discriminatory Drug Sentencing Laws in Upcoming Town Hall

Press Release September 16, 2007
Media Contact

Jasmine Tyler at (202) 294-8292 or Allison Peltzman at (202) 675-2312

HOUSTON — The Drug Policy Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union, drug policy activists and legal experts will hold a town hall discussion over the unfair federal sentencing laws for crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. The discussion will focus on legislative, legal and grassroots strategies to end the disparity.

Current federal sentencing law punishes crack cocaine offenders much more severely than other drug offenders. For example, distributing just five grams of crack carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence, while distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence. This 100:1 sentencing disparity has been routinely criticized for its racially discriminatory impact by a wide variety of criminal justice and civil rights groups. Although whites and Hispanics form the majority of crack users, the vast majority of those convicted of crack cocaine offenses are African Americans.

WHAT: It’s Not Fair. It’s Not Working: A community discussion on crack cocaine versus powder cocaine federal sentencing laws

WHO: Deborah J. Vagins, policy counsel for Civil Rights, ACLU Washington, Legislative Office; Barry Hargrove, field organizer, ACLU Washington Legislative Office; Dr. Helen Greene, professor, Texas Southern University; Jasmine Tyler, deputy director of national affairs, Drug Policy Alliance; Dr. Ken Collins, asst. VP of federal and regulatory affairs-Public Health Unit, EOP Group; Richard R. Farias, president & CEO, Tejano Center for Community Concerns

WHEN: Wednesday, September 19; 6 p.m. Reception; 7 p.m. Town Hall Meeting

WHERE: The Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne Street

The “It’s Not Far. It’s Not Working” Media Resource Guide is available online.

The ACLU report, “Cracks in the System: Twenty Years of the Unjust Federal Crack Cocaine Law,” is available online.

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

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