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.

Post by:
Filed under: Crime • Drugs • Justice • Overheard on CNN.com • Prisons
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Big E

    Having dealt with an addiction to perscription drugs, I have seen first hand what drugs and alcohol cando to a person. Both of these can and will destroy a persons life and hurt those people around them who love and care for them. Addiction is an insidious disease it is out to kill the person ultamitly. It destroys your morals, it destroys families and frienships, it steals everything you have and are. Treatment is very helpful if you are serious and want to quit but, if you aren't and are there for the courts or to get your kids back, it won't work. YOU HAVE TO WANT IT FOR YOU!! And you need a good support system for when you go home, I reccomend a 12 step program such as A or NA. They are both excellent programs if you work them. With them and by the grace of my Higher power I have been sober and clean for 32 months.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ARMYofONE

      Do the crime do the time. They knew the law, they broke the law. Stop whining and crying.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. gung hoe

    Why you think its strange if i go to bar have fun talking dancing pool darts etc.Now get a 6 pack sit in truck with radio me and someone be it friend or dog we R gettin drunk

    November 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. pmk1953

    I can go to the bar with "the boss" and drink pop, but I find I can't stand drunks when I'm sober. After about an hour I drag her pretty little butt out the door. I'll buy her a six pack and go to either her house or mine. It doesn't bother me that she drinks as she is a social drinker and besides, after about 5 beers she gets sleepy and quits. I've never seen her get more than buzzed in 8 years. She'll nurse a beer for an hour. I can't stand the taste of beer. I sure don't miss waking up and wondering what I did last night.

    November 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pmk1953

    Gung hoe, I was the opposite, sober at home, mine or someone else's. Turn me loose in a bar and I'm gonna get trashed. Like I said in my previous post, it sure is nice to wake without wondering what I did last night, or where the car is.

    November 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    8 words no one wants to hear:

    "Do you remember what you *did* last night?!"

    Lol

    November 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kim

    They need better rehab programs in prison and in the community because the current ways are not working.

    November 2, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ARMYofONE

      Or maybe they need to realize they are breaking the law. They are grown adults and are held accountable for the actions.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. gung hoe

    @ banasy sure do went to sleep @7pm woke couple times to go we we then @8am drug my lazy asz up
    off the couch

    November 2, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    @ kim exactly what i was blogging at the begginning

    November 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RUFFNUTT (arkasas hillbilly dentist)

    crack is whack.. they took er teeth...!!!!

    November 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. leeintulsa

    @armyofone: either way, you are paying to feed em. And imprisoning people hasn't stopped 'drugs'.

    Maybe there's a way without also paying for prisons and rendering people unhirable with loss of freedom..

    November 3, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    Hi, leeintulsa.

    Legalize pot.

    November 3, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. CrAzY Phelp McDougal

    Another example of non-violent offenders being released early to make room for Americans found guilty of defrauding social security, military entytlement, welfare, medical, etc. programs. The FBI is simply too inundated by the vasteness of this problem. The Patriot act allowed for the CIA to spy on fraudulent citizens. The already written Victory act of Congress will allow the CIA to help the FBI round them up and throw them into prison. Good news for honest people. Crooks like to think this is a joke or that I'm making this up though.

    November 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    Well, I won't have to worry about that. I've never defrauded anyone, *ever*.
    Honesty is the best policy.
    It's too bad that our insurance prices, et al, goes up because of these fraudulent practices.
    Innocents suffer.
    And that's just wrong.

    Legalize pot.
    Pay down the debt.

    November 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Handbananna1

    Since my comment was posted in the article I feel the need to extend the point cocaine is a dangerous drug people do not act like abiding normal in good mental health citizens by breaking the law with such a dangerous drug should come with a strict penalty to sell a drug like this should come with a terroristic charge show me the cocaine labs in the us cocaine funds cartels why are we ignoring this point addicts are a separate concern TREATMENT or treatment specific jail facilities and by allowing shortened sentences we are allowing people with bad mental health to walk the streets

    November 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cameo Stephens

    Im excited about the Fair Sentencing Act, but what are we going to do about their records, why cant their criminal records be wiped clean if they have done the time for the crime, except for violent criminals Otherwise the prisoners still have a difficult time searching for employment because of their past. Is it really ever a PAST?

    November 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
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