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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Press Release - Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Statement by Wade Henderson, President of The Leadership Conference, on the Senate Judiciary Committee's Vote to Amend and Pass The Fair Sentencing Act (S. 1789)

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Simpson, 202.466.2061, simpson@civilrights.org
March 17, 2010

Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement regarding the Senate Judiciary Committee's vote on March 11 to amend and pass The Fair Sentencing Act (S. 1789).

"For nearly two decades, The Leadership Conference has fought for the complete elimination of the unjustified and racially discriminatory disparity in sentencing between the crack and powder forms of cocaine. This disparity subverts justice, undermines confidence in our criminal justice system, and wreaks havoc on the African-American community. We strongly supported Senator Dick Durbin's bill, S. 1789, which would have completely eliminated the disparity.

While we are disappointed that the goal of complete elimination has not yet been accomplished and that discrimination will remain, The Leadership Conference considers the Senate Judiciary Committee's unanimous passage of the amended version of S. 1789, which reduces the disparity from a ratio of 100-to-1 to 18-to-1, to be a step forward.

This legislation represents progress but not the end of the fight. As Dr. King said, 'An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.' We are committed to redoubling our efforts to obtain complete elimination of this sentencing disparity – the only fair and just solution.

We applaud Senator Durbin for his persistence in seeking real reform, along with Chairman Patrick Leahy and Senators Jeff Sessions and Orrin Hatch for their steadfast commitment to addressing this issue. We appreciate the contributions of Senator Lindsey Graham toward finding a resolution. We want to note Senator Ben Cardin's continued commitment to the complete elimination of the disparity and Senator Russ Feingold's courageous vote against the amendment. We also want to recognize the leadership of Representative Bobby Scott and the Congressional Black Caucus, who have served as the conscience of Congress on this issue."

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