A long-standing point of contention for critics of the war on drugs—the reality of black drug offenders getting longer sentences than whites for committing essentially the same crime—ends in the Golden State. Attorney General Eric Holder is probably smiling at this news.
Critics of the criminal-justice system often call on the federal government to fix the prison-sentencing disparities that exist between black and white defendants convicted of drug crimes, but last week California showed that states have the power to correct that kind of racial discrimination, too.
According to an Al-Jazeera report, the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, signed the California Fair Sentencing Act that will equalize the amount of years in prison both crack and cocaine drug users receive when convicted.
The legislation was introduced and authored by Democratic State Sen. Holly Mitchell, an African-American legislator who is also chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus.
“We must break the drug-driven cycle of arrest, lockup, unemployability and rearrest,” Mitchell said in a statement. “The law isn’t supposed to be a pipeline that disproportionately channels the young, urban and unemployed into jail and joblessness.”