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Lawyer Basic Reyes seeks reduction for low-level cocaine offenders

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes attempts to overturn outdated low-level cocaine convictions in a new letter to Congress.

Reyes and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine lead a group of 25 attorneys general calling on Congress to reform criminal laws that affect disproportionately low cocaine offenders.

“When Congress changed the law that treated crack powder and cocaine powder differently, we made great strides in tackling racial inequality in the criminal justice system,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Unfortunately, penal reforms have left offenders at the lowest level. Very often these judgments often affect people who are disproportionately colored, which further undermines the stability of families in minority communities. We urge Congress to extend these reforms to these criminals so that they too can seek help. “

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This step deals with two laws – the Fair Sentencing Act and the First Step Act.

The Fair Sentencing Act was passed in 2010 to reduce the differences between the penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses. However, the law did not help the many people who were convicted of crack cocaine before 2010 and remained in prison.

The First Step Act was passed with bipartisan support in 2018 and aimed to correct injustices caused by crack cocaine condemnation versus powder cocaine condemnation.

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The earlier rule punished users and dealers of crack cocaine much more severely than users and dealers of cocaine powder, which, according to officials, caused disproportionate damage to color communities. The condemnation standards of this rule have since fallen into disrepute.

The First Step Act contained a provision that retroactively provided previous reforms to drug law and allowed those serving harsh sentences under the previous law to seek help.

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In the letter, Reyes and other attorneys general called on Congress to bridge the gap between the two statutes to ensure that penalties are eased for low-level offenders.

Reyes believes that these offenders should not be serving sentences according to standards that are no longer acceptable and have fallen into disrepute.

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