November 2nd, 2011
01:16 PM ET

Overheard on 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. 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 moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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

    YES! Level the field, .

    November 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat2u

    How about reducing the sentences for the oh so violent marijauna criminals ?

    November 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gung hoe

    You know I would agree to reduing the sentencing as long as the sentencing went along with education

    November 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gung hoe

    Hey bobcat bet you miss deer huntin
    Back 2 subject i agree with you bobcat just as long as the drug education while the person is in jail or prison

    November 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    Having been to a rehab facility in the course of my studies, let me tell you what most of the people were in there for: heroin, not crack, although there were some for that reason, too.
    Of course, this was back in the day, so I would expect that the addiction to meth has exponentially grow along with it's popularity.
    At the time I was observing, there were 5 heroin addicts, three crack addicts, one for cannabis and one for alcohol.
    No powder coke, though.

    I still think cannabis should be legalized; slap a tax on that stuff, and watch out debt go down...

    *The preceding was not an endorsement of drug use. In no way, shape or form do I think drug use is ok. It isn't*

    November 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Hi, guys.

    November 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fernace

    I've recently started to smoke a cigarette now & then & if they were a new invention, sold on the streets they would also be illegal right now! I've never smoked crack, but people in the know have told me that it's a high-blast of a drug, i.e. it gets you really high for a few minutes & then you have to hit the pipe again! I'm pretty much having that effect with regular old legal cigs! Maybe it's an unusual reaction, but it's like an intense blast that diminshes & soon I'm ready for more nicotine! It's all about perspective, some are fine with the legal v. illegal categories of drugs, but others, like myself, knows from 2nd hand experience it's not that cut & dry! The most insidious drug epidemic happening right now is in prescription drugs! Once a drug is underwritten by a physician people seem to think it can do them no harm & readily offer their perscription to others with similar symptoms! It's a buyers & sellers market right now, with legal drugs! Legalize it all & let it come out in the wash!!

    November 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    Hi stranger, queen banasy.just curious you dont agree with drug use but legalise weed.Isnt that a oxymoron just curious still luv ya sista

    November 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin in Atlanta

    My god, just legalize weed already. That'll clear up 50% of prison population. It's a non-violent, victimless crime. Why are people in jail for decades because of it?

    November 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gung hoe

    @fernace first off,I beg of you please throw them cigs just as far as you can.From what you described that is the start with cigs and once they get you they are the hardest to quit of any drug

    November 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    @gung hoe:
    No, not really.
    It's kind of the same as a person not choosing to drink or smoke, yet alcohol and cigarettes are legal.
    Pot is pretty harmless.
    There are many people who say it's a gateway for harder drugs, but there's equal amounts of evidence that says this isn't true.
    The one clogging up our prisons aren't the ones who have imported vast amounts of pot for resale, it's the ones who were caught with a relatively small amount.
    Legalize pot, tax it as we do ciggies and booze, and free up the prison cells for the more hard-core criminals.

    November 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dihardamerican

    I agree that we should release Non Violent Drug Criminals and NOW!! Not only would it reduce the prison population,it would reduce the economy crisis!! And futher more I agree that legalizing some drugs"as in other Countries" would reduce crime as well. America: If you really want to make a "change" make a (2 year Manditory Military Bootcamp) for these jobless "pants below the butt" wearing thugs roaming the streets!!

    November 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Punmaster

    Some of these comments crack me up.

    November 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Frank (R - Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    "If you can't do the time, then don't do the crime". What's next. Reduced time for first degree murder?

    November 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pmk1953

    Powder is associated with rich whites, while crack is associated with poor blacks. We can't be putting the "job creators" in jail, can we?

    November 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
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