Politicians need to stand up to the prosecutocracy — and embrace reform.
The recent commutation by President Obama of eight lengthy individual sentences for drug abuse is a tiny but significant gesture, as America’s long indulgence, spiked intermittently into passionate support, for draconian hypocrisy in its failed War on Drugs yields grudgingly to the forces of reason and decency. This follows the reduction in the disparity of sentences for crack as opposed to powder cocaine from 100 to one to 18 to one. There are a number of reasons for this change, but the principal one, apart from the absurd starting imbalance, is that the cocaine-using middle-class and university white people are powder customers, and the generally poorer African Americans tend to be crack users. The first black president and attorney general in U.S. history were not impetuous in their haste to make this change, and 18 to one is still an unsupportable discrimination.