July 21, 2021
Senator Dick Durbin
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Cory Booker
717 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators Durbin and Booker:
On behalf of the National Panhellenic, comprised of over 2.5 million predominantly African American, college-educated members representing nine Black Greek Letter Organizations (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.), we write to express our strong support for H.R. 1693/S. 79, the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act (EQUAL Act), introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), and Don Bacon (R-NE). We commend you for your leadership and vision in introducing the EQUAL Act to end the crack cocaine and powdered cocaine federal sentencing disparity.
EQUAL will address the sentencing disparity created by Congress in 1986 in the treatment of crack cocaine offenses and powdered cocaine offenses, even though these substances are two forms of the same drug. As a result of that law, five grams of crack cocaine carried the same mandatory minimum prison sentence as 500 grams of powdered cocaine—an extreme 100-to-1 disparity.
The research is clear that effects of punitive approaches to substance use disorders have disproportionately impacted Black lives. Criminal records hamper the education, employment opportunities for individuals, reinforcing poverty and limiting opportunities for upward mobility. By passing the EQUAL Act and reducing overincarceration in federal prisons, Congress would free up resources to evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders instead of ineffective punitive responses.
Passage of the EQUAL Act is a necessary step in addressing the inequities in the criminal justice system and building a safer and more just society. Thank you for your leadership and we stand ready to help in these efforts.
The National Council of Presidents
Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Dr. Glenda Glover
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Reuben A. Shelton, III, Esq. Vice Chairman
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Dr. David E. Marion, Chairman
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Beverly E. Smith
National President & CEO
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Micheal E. Cristal
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Valerie Hollingsworth Baker
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Rasheeda S. Liberty
International Grand Basileus
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Andre R. Manson
International Grand Polaris
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Incorporated (NPHC) is currently composed of nine (9) International Greek letter Sororities and Fraternities: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. For more information, visit www.nphchq.org or CONTACT: Vanetta Cheeks Reeder, 404-942-3257, [email protected].