Reps. Jeffries, Walters Lead CBC Call For Senate Vote On Equal Act

legislation would eliminate the federal crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity
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Photos: Sentencing Project\Twitter\Screenshot\YouTube

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, led all House Members of the Congressional Black Caucus in calling on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin to bring H.R. 1693, the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law (EQUAL) Act to the Senate floor for a vote.

The bipartisan legislation would eliminate the federal crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity and provide retroactive relief to those already convicted and sentenced. In September, the House overwhelmingly passed the legislation 361 to 66 with 143 republican votes.

“The EQUAL Act is ready for Senate consideration,” wrote the Members. “Today, the legislation has 21 cosponsors in the Senate, including 11 Republicans, indicating that it would likely clear the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.”

The sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine, at one point as high as 100 to 1, helped fuel the mass incarceration epidemic. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, in Fiscal Year 2020, 77.1% of crack cocaine trafficking offenders were Black, whereas most powder cocaine trafficking offenders were either white or Hispanic. In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act reduced the sentencing disparity from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1, and in 2018 the First Step Act made that reduction retroactive.

The EQUAL Act “would eliminate the crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity and ensure that those who were convicted or sentenced for a federal offense involving cocaine can receive a re-sentencing under the new law,” continued the Members. “In total, the EQUAL Act will reduce excessive prison time by 67,800 years.”

The full text of the letter to Majority Leader Schumer and Chairman Durbin can be found here.

Reps. Jeffries and Waters are joined in this request by the following:

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Bobby L. Rush, Danny K. Davis, Terri A. Sewell, Anthony G. Brown, Val B. Demings, Gwen Moore, Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Eddie Bernice Johnson, Bennie G. Thompson, Shelia Jackson Lee, Gregory W. Meeks, Barbara Lee, Yvette D. Clarke, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Eleanor Holmes Norton, Karen Bass, Frederica S. Wilson, Robin L. Kelly, Brenda L. Lawrence, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Steven Horsford, A. Donald McEachin, Joe Neguse, Nikema Williams, David Scott, Shontel Brown, Marilyn Strickland, Troy A. Carter, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Stacey E. Plaskett, Al Green, Marc Veasey, Ritchie Torres, Mondaire Jones, Jamaal Bowman, ED.D., Lauren Underwood, Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley, Al Lawson, Colin Allred, Lucy McBath, Alma S. Adams, PH.D., G.K. Butterfield, Emanual Cleaver, II, Dwight Evans, André Carson, Kweisi Mfume, Jahana Hayes, Ilhan Omar, Antonio Delgado and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.

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