In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) in order to reduce the disparity in mandatory minimum prison sentences for those convicted of drug crimes involving crack cocaine versus powder cocaine.
The difference in sentences for the two crimes used to be 100 to 1. That is, a person convicted of possessing crack cocaine would be sent to prison 100 times longer than a person convicted of possessing a similar amount of powder cocaine. It is now closer to 18 to 1. While a disparity remains, it is much reduced.
In 2011, the decision was made by Congress to apply the FSA retroactively. This means that 12,000 people currently in the prison system are eligible to seek a reduction of their sentence and to be released from prison early.
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