Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crack Cocaine & The Golden Gate

Updating two previous posts/topics regarding suicide prevention and crack cocaine sentencing disparities:

Money Approved for Suicide Barrier at Golden Gate Bridge:

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency that oversees transportation financing in the Bay Area, approved $5 million in federal money for the final engineering and design of a steel mesh net hanging 20 feet below the span, to catch jumpers. Officials estimate the net system will cost an additional $45 million to build and install.

While there is no sanctioned count, officials estimate that since the bridge opened in 1937 about 1,300 people have ended their lives by climbing over the four-foot-high railing and jumping more than 200 feet to the dark water below.
I'm not sure why it would cost $45 million to install this netting, but the point is that it's being done, at long last. As the research has clearly suggested, many suicides are "passion" or impulsive suicides. By making "suicide targets" such as the Golden Gate more difficult to access, overall prevention can be achieved.

Congress Narrows Cocaine Sentencing Disparities:

Under the current law, adopted in 1986 after a surge in crack cocaine smoking and drug-related killings, someone convicted in federal court of possession of five grams of crack must be sentenced to at least five years in prison, and possession of 10 grams requires a 10-year minimum sentence. With powder cocaine, the threshold amounts for those mandatory sentences are 100 times as high.

In the bill passed Wednesday, the amount of crack that would invoke a five-year minimum sentence is raised to 28 grams, said to be roughly the amount a dealer might carry, and for a 10-year sentence, 280 grams.

This basically codifies what the Supreme Court suggested back in 2007 in the Kimbrough v. U.S. decision, "that the 100-to-1 crack v. powder cocaine disparity in federal sentencing guidelines may exaggerate the seriousness of crack crimes," and is therefore unconstitutional.

Brief moments of sanity, from the halls of congress, to the state of California.

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