Statement of Carolyn B. Lamm, President, American Bar Association Re: Final Passage of the Fair Sentencing Act
The final passage in the House of Representatives and sending on to President Obama for his signature of the Fair Sentencing Act is a victory for common sense, bipartisanship and indeed for the American people. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2009 will reduce the controversial sentencing quantity disparity between crack and powder from 100-1 to 18-1 by increasing the amount of crack cocaine necessary to trigger a mandatory minimum sentence. The 100-1 sentencing disparity — enacted in 1986 — has contributed to and exacerbated extreme racial disparities in the federal justice system. In passing this reform, precious federal resources can be refocused on major drug trafficking and traffickers, rather than on users and low-level street corner offenses better handled at the state and local level. This is a substantial and important step towards fair and responsible sentencing policy.
The House voice vote on this long-contentious issue represents a rare bipartisan achievement in the criminal justice reform area, one that is nearly unprecedented. The ABA thanks the members of Congress in both bodies in coming together with, while imperfect, a strong step forward toward fairness and rationality.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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