Should judges have the discretion to depart from severe sentencing guidelines if they lead khổng lồ unjust results? The Supreme Court wrestled with this question Oct. 2 during oral arguments in a crack-relatedcase, Kimbrough v. United States . The case had percolated up through the lower courts because the trial judge refused to impose a required sentence he found deeply unfair.

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At the peak of the panic over craông xã cocaine in the mid-1980s, Congress passed a rash of laws requiring longer prison sentences. One such law created a 100-to-1 disparity between craông chồng & cocaine offenses. You have sầu lớn get caught with 500 grams of powder cocaine -- but only five sầu grams of crachồng cocaine -- lớn get a mandatory minimum sentence of five sầu years.

Crack is often used in impoverished inner cities, and police focus their surveillance efforts there. The result? Racially discriminatory sentencing that has packed prisons with African Americans. Many state & district court judges agree that the disparity is unfair, & only 13 of the 50 states still legally distinguish between crack và cocaine. In fact, the 20-year-old crack laws are based on myths:

1.Craông xã is different from cocaine.

When the craông xã scare began in the mid-1980s, politicians và the truyền thông outdid each other with horror stories about this new chemical boogeyman. They spoke as if craông chồng were a completely different drug from cocaine, but that is a pharmacological fallacy. Craông chồng is simply the base form of cocaine hydrochloride powder that is smoked. Cocaine is crachồng snorted in powder size. The only difference is that smoking delivers more cocaine khổng lồ the brain faster, just as vodka will get you drunk faster than wine. Smoking craông xã is merely an intense new way to ingest an old drug. Even the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse testified in 2006 that the "pharmacological effects of cocaine are the same, regardless of whether it is in the form of cocaine hydrochloride or craông chồng cocaine."

2. Crachồng is instantly & inevitably addicting.

Drug-control officials justified the new laws by claiming that crack was "the most addictive substance ever known." Of course, this had been said of other drugs in earlier drug scares, beginning with the temperance crusade against alcohol. Still, experts & ex-addicts agree that craông chồng cocaine produces a powerful rush và is easy to abuse; many users have binged on it compulsively and done themselves serious harm.

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But the great majority of people who try craông xã vì not continue to use it. For 20 years, the government"s National Survey on Drug Use và Health has found that about 80 percent of those who have ever tried craông chồng had not used it in the past year. And a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that crack cocaine is not significantly more addictive than powder cocaine.

3. The "plague" of crack use spread quickly inlớn all sectors of society.

This never happened. Whatever its allures, craông chồng use never spread very far inlớn suburban high schools, college campuses or the broad working và middle classes. Crack use remains concentrated in a small slice of the most vulnerable part of the population: marginalized poor people.

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When this mode of ingesting cocaine first appeared among mỏi wealthy Wall Streeters, professional athletes, rochồng stars và Hollywood types, it was called freebasing. When some of them got into trouble doing it, treatment programs were expanded. But when the same practice began to appear in ghettos và barrquả táo under the street name crack, it led to lớn an imprisonment wave sầu. In fact, its use ahy vọng what was already depicted as a "dangerous class" is part of the reason that craông chồng was seen as especially dangerous.

Chuyên mục: Crack