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in october 2013, then-attorney general holder announced the results of a study by the bureau of justice statistics, entitled "incarceration and reentry of adults in federal, state, and local custody." the study found that, in 2010, 21 percent of men in federal custody were black. of those men, 43 percent had been imprisoned for drug offenses, compared to 11 percent of the general population of men in federal custody. and, of those men in federal custody who had been in prison for crack offenses, 45 percent were black. according to the study, the incarceration rate for crack offenses was about twice that for powder cocaine offenses.
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so the years of effort by the sentencing commission and other experts have failed to effectively reduce the racial disparities in the enforcement of the crack cocaine laws. however, many people have had success with the public safety assessment program.
crack has long been a hot topic of debate, as some people argue that it is much more dangerous than other drugs. politicians have responded with what they feel is the appropriate punishment, which is the well-established crack cocaine-to-powder cocaine ratio. others, especially those in law enforcement, argue that this ratio is set up to protect politicians and the police, and that it doesn't work to stop the use of crack.
a few years ago, a group of researchers decided to use the experiences of hurricane katrina to test the difference between the penalties of crack and powder cocaine. they found that the ratio of sentences for crack cocaine was far more severe than the ratio of crack cocaine-to-powder cocaine, and that the disparity was even more pronounced after hurricane katrina, when the crack cocaine-to-powder cocaine ratio was increased to 3-to-1.