November 2nd, 2011
01:16 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Right to reduce time for crack-related crime?

Comment of the morning:

“When you have the most prisoners of any other country in the world and the majority of them are nonviolent drug offenders, it's time to make changes.” - whoaaadude

Crack sentences reduced

The large disparity between crack and cocaine sentences was largely reduced (from 100-1 to 18-1) last year by the Fair Sentencing Act, which means that thousands of prison inmates convicted of crack cocaine charges will be getting out early. Critics of the sentencing disparity say the old system unfairly penalized African-Americans.

CNN.com readers were divided about the reduction: Some said crack-related crime did not fit the time, while others said the drug often leads to other more dangerous behavior and believe the reduction sends the wrong message.

turbosub said, “The bottom line is: People are going to use drugs whether it's legal or not. Addicts don't need jail time. They need help beating their addictions. The crimes and violence that come along with drug prohibition would go away if the government allowed and taxed it. Read the news. In Portugal, they decriminalized drugs, and there's 50% less drug use than there was before. Let's use this money for helping addicts, not throwing them to rot.”

America314 said, “Hey, if they don't hurt anyone what's the point of jailing people for something they do to their own body? Prisons are overcrowded as it is.”

spiT4u2 responded, “The point is that crack makes people do really stupid things. ... Unlike pot, crack sends them out into the streets to do anything to get more. The rush only lasts a few minutes, so you have to score over and over. Then when you are wired and have been up for eight or nine days, your mind starts to think about human torture and slaves. This is not your daddy's coke. There is nothing laid-back about crack.”

tdogg3234 said, “The problem is that most do hurt people. Then for the women who are abusers, they get pregnant and hurt their children before they ever have a chance. Kids born from drug-abused women have serious issues, especially mentally. You want to talk about saving money. Think of how many millions, if not billions, of dollars are spent medicating and testing children of drug addicts. The effects are illnesses that can be prevented.”

bgirl38 said, “Crack cocaine completely damaged the black community, completely destroyed the cycle of families. Particularly black women who were doing financially well; they lost their children, homes and the kids were being raised by grandparents. These drug dealers were crying racism because they were getting harsher sentences for dealing crack; however, they didn't think about that when they were killing their own community in order to have fancy cars, designer clothes, multiple women. Instead of going to school, getting a legit job, investing in stock, which by the way was a great thing to do back in the 1980s, they could've been millionaires by now, the legit way. My motto is do the crime, do the time!”

tech1trader agreed, “Crack victimized blacks more than any other race. It wiped out a decade of progress, with test scores stagnant or dropping. It was devastating to the black community. Many in the black community called for the higher sentencing guidelines in order to reclaim their streets.”

But BillsCat said, “What started out as a knee-jerk reaction to crack, snowballed into the larger piece of court lunacy in a couple of decades. Somebody with a few grams of crack gets up to 10 times the sentence of a guy with an ounce of powder - fill the prisons with very minor dealers and users while the real suppliers smile and send tons across the borders every day.”

LeanneG said, “Reduce the sentence for crack? How about increase the sentence for powder cocaine? Just saying. ...”

Jerboa said, “Well it looks like the recidivism rate is going up.”

Westernslope said, “If alcohol were a new drug just discovered and sold out in the streets, it would be illegal. But you can go buy it on every street corner, supermarket, drugstore you want. It is more harmful than crack and heroin. And it is legal. And crack is cocaine. Simple as that. The disparity is unfair and racist.”

Julnor said, “One of the largest expenditures in state budgets is prisons. In this age of tight budgets we have to decide as a society how much we want to spend to put people in prison. Smoking crack just doesn't seem worthy of long, expensive prison sentences.”

egosum said, “Drugs affect an entire family. Turning them loose will only increase the crime rate and living off the government. I am tired of the race card; do the crime, do the time. Put everyone back on the chain gang, get them out of prisons. If you make it ‘not a nice place to be,’ they won't be in a hurry to get back.”

handbananna1 said, “Slash a dangerous drug sentence? How about replace jail time with treatment instead?”

Open Thread: Talk about the news

Do you feel your views align with those of these commenters? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Crime • Drugs • Justice • Overheard on CNN.com • Prisons
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. dmmd

    using your logic:
    If the USA has the most murders in the world let us outlaw knives.
    or since medicines often cause harmful side effects======let's outlaw doctors.
    or since prisons are full let's legalize theft, or drugs.
    Your conclusion precedes your reasoning.

    November 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bbwpunk

    The drug war costs billions of dollars every year and destroys lives. Prisons teach non violent drug offenders how to be better criminals. I have experienced this first hand with my family my entire life. Everytime my husband or uncles would go to prison they came back with new and better connections and new recipes. If drugs were decriminalized and treated as an illness instead of a crime not only would the costs go down but so would use. I do not think all drugs should be legalized and taxed but marijuana should be, other drugs should at least be decriminalized though. The revenues could help solve our countries debt crisis and the money saved from fighting a losing drug war would also bail out the government. Just because a government implements a law that does not mean the law is just. Breaking an unjust law in my opinion does not create a criminal it creates revolutionaries who might be able to change the law for a better future for all people.

    November 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
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