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Friday, June 03, 2005

Gov Rell vetos crack-cocaine bill

Gov. Rell vetoed the bill that would of equalized the penalites for crack and cocaine posession in CT. Currently, the penality for posession of 28 grams of cocaine and 1/2 gram of crack is the same: 5 years mininum and 20 years maximum.

To put in into perspective, 28 grams of cocaine costs aproximently 2,000 dollars compared to 1/2 gram of crack (about the size of a rasin) which costs aproximently 50 dollars. Now if one is caught with 28 grams of coke, theres a good chance that the person was intended to sell it compared to a person with only a 1/2 gram of crack in his or her prosession. Under the current law, both individuals would recive the same jail time, five years minimum, twenty years maximum.
From the Hartford Courant:

The bill that Rell vetoed would have set 28 grams - or one ounce - as the possession threshold for either crack or powder cocaine. Currently, a person can be charged with intent to sell if he or she possess 28 grams of powder cocaine or 0.5 of a gram of crack - about the weight of half a raisin. The crimes carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.
The problem in the current law is obvious. Crack is cheaper and easliy available in urban cities than cocaine and since there is a larger emphasis on law enforcment in urban areas than suburbs, more African-Americans and Latinos are in state prisons for crack prosession.

Gov. Rell acknowledged that there is a problem with the current law and wants to fix the problem.
"I have also listened to the many painful stories of racial disparities, and I intend to act to address them," Rell said. "I want Connecticut in the forefront of this fight."
There is a Republican proposal on the floor that will set the limit of crack and cocaine posession at 14 grams. This compromise has failed in both houses in the past.
The Republican proposal, co-authored by Rep. Robert Farr in the House of Representatives, would set 14 grams - or one-half ounce - as the trigger for the crime of possession with intent to sell for both crack and powder cocaine. Amendments advancing the 14-gram limit failed previously in each chamber.

The troubling thing about the Republican proposal is not the compromise itself (lets be honest, if your caught with 14 grams of crack or coke, your probably intending on selling it) but why the 14-gram compromise bill failed to pass in the first place? Some people would say that the compromised bill did not pass originally because by lowering the amount of cocaine prosession from 28 to 14 grams, more whites in the suburbs would be being locked up and by increasing the crack possession limit to 14 grams, less minorities would be in jail. Again, since there is a larger emphasis on law enforcment in urban areas than suburbs, more minorities are being locked up under a current law that is clearly wrong (and many deed racist).

Gov. Rell made it pretty clear in the beginning that she would veto the 28-gram crack-cocaine bill so why pass a something that was doomed to fail? The proposal of 14-grams is not only fair, but it makes perfect sense and hopefully the compromised bill will be passed and signed into law without delay.