Legislation enacted in 1986 shaped the War on Drugs by prescribing mandatory minimum penalties for drug trafficking based on the amount of drugs involved and by making a distinction between possession of cocaine and possession of crack cocaine. A penalty was imposed of a minimum of 25 years imprisonment for possession of 5 or more grams of crack cocaine (the form of cocaine for which African Americans are disproportionately arrested)? In contrast, an offender found guilty of possession of powder cocaine (the type commonly used by middle- and upper-class whites) would only be liable for a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years if the amount of cocaine exceeded or equaled 500 grams. By the mid-1990s, three out of four persons doing time for drug offenses were African American, and in the federal courts, 94% of persons tried for drug offenses were African American. In 1995, the U.S. Sentencing Commission urged that there is parity in penalties for the different forms of cocaine, explaining that there was no rational basis for this differentiation in sentencing (Glassner 1999: 136). The commission’s recommendations had never before been refused, but the White House and Congress aggressively opposed these recommendations, which were struck down in the House of Representatives by a vote of 332 to 83. Rather than give equity to African Americans charged with drug offenses, the White House and Congress preferred to avoid being labeled as “soft on drugs.” The following composition will examine the ethical decision of the White House and Congress through analyzing the four ethical theories: ethical relativism, ethical egoism, deontological ethics, and ontological ethics, and concluding with the ethical theory which resolves the above decision.
The theory of ethical relativism does not possess an ethical absolute, but what is construed as right and wrong depends upon a society’s ethics, change and evolve over time. The...
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Race and the Drug War. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.drugpolicy.org/race-and-drug-war.
Velasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, T., & Meyer, M. (1992).Ethical relativism. Retrieved from http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/ethicalrelativism.html
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