The Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously agreed to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine to 18:1, down from 100:1. The vote envisages similar legislation. “A long-standing dispute over huge disparities in sentencing between crack vs. powdered cocaine appears to be headed for a resolution in Congress. Senate lawmakers reached across the aisle and brokered a landmark deal this week to reduce criminal penalties for defendants caught with crack cocaine, hashing out the terms in, of all places, a congressional gym. Opportunity struck when Sen. Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) encountered colleagues Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) in the Senate gym early Thursday, before they had started their workouts. Durbin seized the moment to advance the legislation and sent his aides an e-mail at 7:35 a.m., outlining the terms of his offer. The deal was sealed with a handshake two hours later at a committee meeting in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The often-divided Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the measure 19 to 0 the same day, addressing for the first time in two decades a sentencing disparity that has troubled civil rights organizations, prisoners rights advocates and officials in the Obama White House.”
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