The disparities between federal sentencing rules for two types of cocaine cases (crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine) is one of the most egregious and persistent injustices in the American criminal system. As the New York Times reports it, penalties for crack cocaine could be up to 100 times higher than penalties for an analogous amount of powder cocaine.
This disparity is not only irrational, it is also in many ways racial. Crack cocaine is culturally a "black" drug, while powder cocaine is culturally a "white" drug. This merely exacerbates the already heavy hand that the black community feels from law enforcement.
The NYT report has some good news, though: Congress is finally looking at this important issue. A bill passed the Senate that would at least start to address the problem. Instead of a 100:1 ratio, the legislation that passed the Senate (and must now pass the House) reduces it to an 18:1 ratio. The bill passed the Senate on a voice vote, meaning there was no significant opposition to it.