An insider’s take on the crack/powder disparity

Harris, Maurice



Afl INSIDER'S TAKE ON THE CRACK/POWDER DISPARITY To start, I would be remiss not to mention my qualifications to speak on this subject of cocaine sentencing. I became involved in the Los Angeles drug trade in its infancy, during the mid 80s, initially, to support myself in college. Once my stature progressed, I quickly left school behind. I continued in this field until 1994, when fellow drug dealers collaborated with ‘others’ [authorities] to put me on California's death row, from where I write this essay. Amid this time, I served a 63 month Federal sentence for drug trafficking. However, I stayed in constant contact with my fellow dealers throughout my incarceration.[1] With that said, I have to state that this is in no way a rant from someone who received the severe end of this crack/powder disparity. The opposite is true, by the time of my Federal arrest I advanced to a level that dealt mostly in powder. I still remember someone in court mentioning how fortunate I was not to have been arrested with crack, for my punishment would be extremely harsher. At the time, I took it as just being 'talk' to help ease the pain of this 63 month sentence. After I turned myself in to begin my sentence (another perk to being on the powder end (H? the spectrum), I quickly, & astonishly, came face—to—face with the reality of this disparity. I ran into so many young men arrested with only a few grams of crack, serving the same amount of time as myself! I couldn't understand. the logic behind someone with a couple of hundred dollars worth of cocaine having a similar sentence. Afterall, I had enough. drugs to earn not only myself, but, my cohorts dollars in the 10 figures! What's not widely known is that this disparity continues even while in prison, where one still needs to buy essentials (hygienes, food, clothing, etc.). These guys weren't making enough money to support themselves during their incarceration. If they were not fortunate enough to have family pitch in (which is another financial drain on the community) they had to struggle. However, people that usually deal in powder have a little money, &/or, associates to support their stay, as I did. Honestly, the most difficult part of my time was developing empathy for those guys that I knew caught a raw deal. THE FOLLOWING ARE A FEW KEY POINTS FROM AN INSIDER'S OBSERVATION OF WHY THIS DISPARITY IS FACTUALLY UNJUST: 1. Obviously, powder is the SOURCE of crack cocaine. Most of the people arrested for crack did not create it. Those of us who had access to powder would keep this process to ourselves, in order to maximize profit. Eg., one could take a kilo of powder & convert it into 1%—2 kilos of crack, depending on how much a person was willing to dilute its potency. Therefore, a victim of the crack disparity is actually receiving more time for an INFERIOR version of cocaine that has the lowest profit margin. This, also, demonstrates that a kilo of crack is just that, a kilo of crack,but, a kilo of powder is potentially 1%—2 kilos of crack. (Note: I've known some guys to stretch it past double its original weight.) It's all in the math. The Latent Effect: Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness, goes into detail on how this 'war of drugs' turned ea body of ndnorities (& some whites) into 2nd 8: 3rd class citizens, counteracting Iflma Civil Rights gains of the '60s (i.e., disenfranchisement, unemployability for a felony). She explains it much better than I, therefore, I highly recommend the reading of this book.[2] There's another clandestine motive that's been reported regarding this 'war on drugs' that need to be considered: as a bonus [it will] help reduce the defense budg- et by using inmate labor for maintenance work on remote U.S. military outposts. - Behold A Pale Horse, by William Cooper, p.483 (quoting a LA Daily New's article on the war on drugs, by Mark Barnhill, 9/19/90.) Personally, while in federal prison, I worked for the prison corporation, UNICOR, rebuilding military generators; George Air Force Base, up until its closing (was there at the start of the 1st Iraq War); & Edward Air Force Base (Space Shuttle's alternate landing site). Inmates also worked (H1 a nearby Marine Base whose name escapes me, others were shipped to Nellis Airforce Base to work, & build another prison camp. Therefore, in my opinion, there's a lot of validity to this LA Daily News‘ excerpt. For all the above-stated reasons, I believe the cocaine disparity, including the new 18—to—1 ratio, is not only unjust, but violate the 8th unu the Tha Mau San fac ema_ Amendmend's guarantee against excessive fines, plus, cruel & sual punishment. I recommend that the foregoing facts be brought to public's attention in the course of any debate on this topic. nk you. rice L. Harris, 4/25/1O Quentin,CA ebook/maurice harris il: free maurice NOTES United States v. Maurice Harris, U.S.D.C. Eastern District of Missouri; Case#: 88—CR—O287 (1988). Michelle Alexander & Bryan Stevenson (of Equal Justice Initiative, a former litigator before the Supreme Court) can be viewed discussing her book, & relevant topics (with stats) on PBS’ Moyers' Journal, 4/2/10, Bill

Author: Harris, Maurice

Author Location: California

Date: October 21, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 4 pages

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