Sessions' Cocaine Bill Reaches Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee today heard testimony on legislation championed by U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to reduce the disparity in federal sentencing guidelines for crack and powder cocaine offenses from 100-to-1 to 20-to-1.

The underlying goal of Sessions' legislation, the Drug Sentencing Reform Act of 2007, is equity - treating similar drugs more fairly when it comes to sentencing.

A recent U.S. Sentencing Commission report said that 83 percent of offenders sentenced for crack violations were African Americans.

Sessions' legislation would minimize the disparity in mandatory minimum sentences for crack and powder cocaine by reducing the penalty for crack cocaine and increasing the penalty for powder cocaine.

Witnesses at the hearing included officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the American Bar Association.