WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism, delivered remarks at the committee’s hearing on the EQUAL Act. Specifically, the Senator spoke on the importance of eliminating the crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity.
“…there's guiding principles to this country where we aspire to the highest ideals of humanity. It's what our Constitution is based upon by our founding fathers who sought to make our nation one that best evidenced the ideals not just of humanity but of divine providence. There is a, from the Abrahamic faiths, an ideal come from Micah, what do you want a lord from your people, which is to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. This is one of those areas of law where we have created this disparity, that to me violate those highest ideals in a way that I can't identify as great exists in other areas.”
“Again, recent data dispels this notion that crack offenses account for a higher rate of weapons possession than powder cocaine according to the data from the USSC. In fiscal year 2020, more federal offenders charged with powder cocaine offenses carried weapons 490 than those charged with crack cocaine offenses. 468. In fact, it's the opposite. The data shows that powder cocaine folks are more likely to have weapons. And so for me, there is no substantive reason from the actual chemical. They're the same substance, all the way to the allegations that somehow the this will lead to more violence, or lead to more recidivism. This is just not the case. What is the case is that this has created within our society, deeper schisms along racial lines, where certain people have had their lives devastated by this disparity. This is not justice. This is not those high ideals of humanity that we talk about, in our most sacred civic documents, like the ideals of equal justice under the law.”
“I live in a community now that for a generation has been vilified. That on the evening news, we made people afraid. Where words like super predators and others were heaped upon black communities. And we have been devastated in this country as a result of the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans even though there's no difference. No difference in America and the usage of drug rates along racial lines. We need to end this nightmare. It is not just hurting African American communities. It is a stain upon our highest ideals of humanity. We must as a Senate, do as Micah commands, do justice, show mercy and walk humbly with our Lord.”