At raucous campaign event in Atlanta, Hillary Clinton calls for reforms to eliminate sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: At a raucous campaign event in Atlanta White House contender Hillary Clinton on Friday called for criminal justice reforms that would eliminate the disparity in sentencing between offenses related to crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Some spirited attendees at the event were removed with Clinton saying, "Ladies and Gentlemen I have some issues to discuss and proposals to make if our friends will allow me to do it they may actually find them to their liking." After they were removed from the event she said, "I appreciate their passion but I am sorry they didn't listen because some of what they have been demanding I am offering and intend to fight for as President." She then called for equal prison sentences for all cocaine offenders as well as legislation banning federal, state and local law enforcement from relying on ethnicity when initiating routine investigations. "Crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug and continuing to treat them differently disproportionately hurts black Americans," Clinton said. The proposals kick off what Clinton's campaign describes as an "extensive agenda" of criminal justice system reforms to be outlined in coming days, focusing on policing, incarceration and re-entry to society. Clinton's proposals focused on ending what she has called an "era of mass incarceration" that has disproportionately affected communities of color. Crack, the smoked "hard" form of cocaine, is cheaper than the usually snorted powder version and is more widespread in lower-income communities. Government data from 2009 showed nearly 80 percent of those convicted of crack cocaine offenses were black. Powder cocaine users tend to be white. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law reducing the sentencing-length disparity for crack versus powder cocaine offenses to a ratio of 18-1 from 100-1, treating 18 grams of powder cocaine as the equivalent of one gram of crack cocaine. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has pushed for what it calls fairer sentencing, has said the law "still reflects outdated and discredited assumptions."