Police found such a small amount of crack cocaine in James V. Taylor's car that investigators described it as unweighable. It was enough for a 15-year prison sentence in Missouri, where the courts make an enormous distinction between crack and powder cocaine.
Missouri and several other states followed the federal government's lead in creating such disparities decades ago, but now federal law has changed and prisoner advocates say it's time for the states to do the same.
Critics of the tougher crack sentences say they subject mostly blacks to long prison terms while those caught with powder cocaine — mostly whites — get more lenient treatment. Some prosecutors say crack should be punished more harshly because it is more addictive.
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