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Overcrowded Prisons Essays

Millions upon millions if Americans have been sent to prison without a victim ever claiming damages. It is important to look at the burden this mass level of incarceration places upon our society. Viewing the statistics, demonstrates just how the destructive mass of incarceration of victimless crimes have been high not only in women but in men as well. Drug offenses are self-explanatory as being victimless, but so are public order offenses, which also follows the victimless crimes.
Public order crimes are those that are crimes against the society one is within, in the United States, such as prostitution, immigration, drunk in public, drug use and abuse. According to 2006 statistics, one in thirty-six Hispanic men are behind bars, as are one in fifteen black men. If we limit the data to black males between the ages of twenty to thirty-four, that would determine that one in nine are behind bars. Keep in mind that eight-six percent of those men are behind bars for victimless crimes, meaning they have not stolen any property or harmed anyone directly by their actions.
Drug offenders have represented the most substantial source of growth in recent decades, starting with forty thousand inmates in 1980 to four hundred and fifty thousand inmates today. Despite the fact that the number of persons in prison today for drug offenses is more than ten times the number in 1980, drug use rates remain substantial, with data indicating a general increase over the past few years. During a period, when the number of persons in prison for drug law violations was growing at a rate faster than other offense types, the underlying behavior appears to have experienced little impact.
Due to todays new consciousness about the unfairness and effectiveness of harsh crack cocaine mandatory sentences has emerged among policy makers and the United States Sentencing Commission. These unfair sentencing laws, have a dramatic effect on the cause of overcrowding in prisons for decades. Every year, thousands of people are put away for long prison terms because of these arcane and racist sentencing laws. They punish people caught with crack cocaine, who are often black and poor, more than one hundred times more harshly than who is caught with powder cocaine.
The only difference between crack and cocaine powder is that cocaine powder is derived from coca paste, which is in turn derived from the leaves of a coca plant. Crack cocaine is made by taking cocaine powder and cooking it with baking soda and water until it forms a hard substance. The physiological effects of all types of cocaine are the same, but the intensity and duration of the high differ according to the route of administration. Experts believe that crack is more likely to be abused rather than cocaine, simply because the high is shorter.
Crack is an inexpensive drug and is usually sold in small quantities, so it is often sold out in the open, which can be prone to violence. Powder cocaine is distributed moreover in wholesale, where it is more likely to be sold behind close doors. Both powder and crack cocaine cause distribution related violence, but crack is more often sold in volatile settings. These drugs still being defined as the same drug, they still have different sentencing policies. Back in 1986 and 1988, Congress adopted these mandatory sentencing laws on crack. These laws were based on the idea that crack was more addicting than powder cocaine.
They were established mandatory pentalties for crack cocaine that were the harshest ever adopted for low level drug offenses and created drasticatically different penalty structures for crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine, which are identical substances. Although the two types of cocaine cause similar physical reactions, the sentences that users and sellers of the drugs face are vastly different. For powder cocaine, a conviction of possession with the intent to distribute carries a five year sentence for quantities of five hundred grams or more.
On the other hand, for crack a conviction of possession with the intent to distribute carries a five year sentence for only five grams. Under these particular guidelines, a dealer charged with trafficking five hundred grams of powder, approximately worth fifty thousand dollars, could possibly receive a shorter sentence, opposed to a user he supplied with crack valued at six hundred dollars. A person convicted in federal court of possession of five grams of crack will automatically receive five years in prison. A person convicted of possessing five grams of powder cocaine will most likely receive s probation sentence.
The maximum sentence for simple possession of any other drug, including powder cocaine will carry a one year sentence in jail. In 1988, Congress enacted a five year mandatory minimum for first time simple possession of five grams of crack cocaine. No other first time offender charge requires prison time. In 1995, the USSC reports to Congress on crack cocaine, finding that eighty percent of the crack offenders are African americans, resulting in high sentences and are harsher on minorities that it will create a public perception that the criminal justice system is unfair and inconsistent.
They recommend that the crack cocaine and the powder cocaine should follow the same guidelines. However, congress rejectsthat grant. In 2002, they again recommend that the Congress should increase the quantities to twenty five grams for the five year mandatory minimum and two hundred and fifty grams for the ten year mandatory minimum. They also propose to the congress to change the mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine. The U. S. Supreme Court decides United States v.
Booker, in 2005, ruling that the federal sentencing guidelines are advisory and no longer mandatory. After another re Congress in 2007, a USSC amendment to the sentencing guidelines that reduces crack sentences issued under the guidelines by an average of fifteen months becomes effective. In late Decemeber of 2007, the Supreme court decides in Kimbrough v,. United states, that a sentencing judge may depart from the federal sentencing guideline sentence for crack cocaine if the court disagrees with the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences contained in the guidelines.
The law has diverted previous resources away from prevention and treatment for drug users and devastated communities due to incarceration. It is believed that there is racial disparity throught the justice system. The vast majority of persons convicted of possession in federal courts were African americans. Buerau of Statistics, states that trafficking offenders of crack cocaine were about eighty eight percent being African americans. Powder cocaine

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