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. Scottish Mama

    I agree with legalize marijuana, tax the stuff and pay down the debt.
    I think if they are sending meth users to jail, instead they should have consuling and stay for at least 60 Days.
    I think crack users should be consoled and stay 70 days.
    I think heroin users should be consoled also and have 90 day stays.
    Or whatever the phych. Doc. says is recommended for each person who is incarcerated.
    There is and epidemic of hard drug use in the united states and without treatment it is not going to help the problem.

    November 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat2u

    Hello banasy and gung hoe

    I totally agree with both of you. I also won't tell people to go out and use drugs, but if you're going to, stick with marijuana. That other stuff is pure poison. An education into the manufacturing and efect of street drugs such as crack and meth may go a long way in keeping off that crap. I was totall amazed at the poisons they put into thes drugs. Very scary. Pot on the other hand is totally natural, unless of course some idiot decides to cure it with some undesirable substance.
    Whew, a little long winded today, aren't I ?

    November 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    @pmk1953: lmao! So true!

    November 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    @bobcat: nah, you're fine, for a right-wing thug from Alabama!!!


    November 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. taj

    November 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    When I observed, the hardest to kick was the heroin. Meth wasn't relevant then, but from what I read, it's nearly as tough.
    Opium-based addictions (vicodan and the like) are just as hard.
    Methodone, given to heroin addicts to wean then, is just as destructive and addictive.
    Crack and powder were relatively easy to kick, if they didn't go back to the lifestyle they were living before.
    Therein lies one of the biggest problems.

    November 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bigwilliestyles

    Freebasing is when powered cocaine is mixed with baking soda and heated, 'freeing' the 'base' from the chemicals used to process it for increased sale, or 'cut'. There is no difference between a 'freebaser' who separates his own 'base', and the 'crackhead' who buys 'base' that has been 'freed' prior to the purchase. None whatsoever.

    November 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bigwilliestyles

    The two most addictive drugs on the planet are nicotine and alcohol, in that order. If you think the fact that they are legal somehow means that they are less addictive, research prohibition for alcohol, and the current illegal tobacco industry that immediately sprang up when prisons became non-smoking areas.

    November 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bigwilliestyles

    If tobacco were made illegal, millions of people would become criminals instantly because they would be unable to stop smoking.

    November 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    I'll agree with the cigarettes, but not the alcohol.
    Physically kicking the alcohol habit is relatively easy; kicking the underlying causes is what is hard.
    Most social drinkers are not alcoholics; but all alcoholics started out as social drinkers.
    The prohibition's drinkers were mainly social.

    Cigarettes, on the other hand, are notoriously hard to kick; ask anyone who has tried.

    November 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. pmk1953

    I'm one of those people for which 1 drink is too many and 10 is not enough. Luckily I can't stand to drink by myself. I have no problem NOT drinking, but if I go to a bar and have a drink, I'm in trouble. I like Meyer's rum and Coke. I could go to your house and have 1 or 2 drinks and be done, no problem. Without a bartender, it just doesn't interest me. I have a bottle of Meter's in my cupboard now. It's over a year old and it's only 1 quarter gone. My girlfriend and I have had a drink for new years and our birthdays. As long as I stay out of the bars, I'm OK. It took me 10 years and a DUI to figure this out, but I'm glad I did. Just ain't the same at home, so the heck with it.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. pmk1953

    Oops, pudgy fingers. Meyer's not Meter's.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    Yeah, there's something about that social setting, isn't there?
    I was a bartender for *years*, I had quite the following.
    They uised to leave and follow me.
    Now, I rarely go to bars; it's kind of the same thing with me, pmk1953.
    I can take it or leave it.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gung hoe

    @ banasy And pink 1953 with me quite the opposite in the bar no prob anywhere else big problem alchoholic dry 24yrs addictive personality real bad

    November 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    @gung hoe:
    Wow, that's strange...but congrats on 24 years. That's quite an achievement.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
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