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Cotton Speaks Against Drug Sentencing Reform Bill That Has Support Of Hutchinson

Manhattan Institute

Arkansas' junior U.S. senator is pushing back against proposed federal legislation that would eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses, a position opposite of the state’s governor.

Speaking Friday during an event held by the conservative think tank, the Manhattan Institute, Sen. Tom Cotton spoke on the hearing concerning the EQUAL Act, which would reduce the harsher sentences for crack cocaine as opposed to the current lesser sentences for powdered cocaine. Cotton said his proposal legislation concerning sentence disparities is different. 

"If they want to eliminate the differences between the sentences, I’m perfectly willing to do that. But my proposal’s a little different from theirs. They want to take down offences for crack cocaine, I’m perfectly willing to increase sentences for powdered cocaine," Cotton said.

Cotton’s comments come days afterGov. Asa Hutchinson testified in support of the bill, saying enforcing longer sentences for crack cocaine offences impedes efforts to minimize drug trafficking.

Currently, there is a federal 18 to 1 disparity in penalties for crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. The EQUAL Act would eliminate that disparity altogether. However, in Arkansas, cocaine and crack cocaine offenses are already treated equal in sentencing.

Sarah Kellogg was a Politics and Government reporter for KUAR from November 2018- August 2021.
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