House Keeps Crack Sentence

The House joined the Senate in voting Wednesday to retain the five-year mandatory sentence for possession of crack cocaine, rejecting a federal commission’s recommendation to reduce it.

On a 332-83 vote, the House rejected arguments by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Congressional Black Caucus that the disparate sentences for possession of crack and powder cocaine discriminate against poor, mostly black offenders.

“Fighting our nation’s war on drugs has got to be swift and sure,” said Rep. Bill Emerson, R-Mo. “By accepting a rollback, we would be sending precisely the wrong message.”

The Senate also rejected the idea of reducing sentences for crack offenses last month.

The measure also rejects the sentencing panel’s call for reduced penalties for money laundering.

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