This seems to be progress. The Senate measure is an initial, timid step in the right direction. But it doesn’t end a decade’s long, offensive, racially based inequality in federal drug sentencing. It just makes it a fifth as bad as it was.
The United States at this moment imprisons more than 2 million people. 7 million additional people are under supervision of some sort. Seventy percent of US prisoners are non-white. Approximately one-quarter of all those held in US prisons or jails have been convicted of a drug offense. “The United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses.” Forget the statistics for a second. US prisons are disproportionately jammed with non-white people who have been convicted of drug crimes, and non-whites serve longer sentences than whites for possession of drugs.