This is especially true for crack-cocaine defendants, most of whom are black; despite the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, selling a small quantity of crack cocaine (28 grams) carries the same mandatory minimum sentence—five years—as selling 500 grams of powder cocaine.
This is the reality for which proponents of severe federal drug laws must account.
Given that any particular conspiracy theory is unlikely to be the subject of mainstream consensus, what draws people to them?
New research by Josh Hart, associate professor of psychology, suggests that people with certain personality traits and cognitive styles are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories. "These people tend to be more suspicious, untrusting, eccentric, needing to feel special, with a tendency to regard the world as an inherently dangerous place," Hart said.
For example, they believe that world politics are controlled by a cabal instead of governments or that scientists systematically deceive the public.
This indicates that personality or other individual differences might be at play."They are also more likely to detect meaningful patterns where they might not exist.People who are reluctant to believe in conspiracy theories tend to have the opposite qualities." Hart and his student, Molly Graether '17, surveyed more than 1,200 American adults.Democrats are more likely to believe that Trump's campaign "colluded" with the Russians, Hart said.Some people are also habitual conspiracists who entertain a variety of generic theories.“Never could I have imagined,” he writes in a recent piece in , “that…after nineteen years [as a federal district court judge], I would have sent 1,092 of my fellow citizens to federal prison for mandatory minimum sentences ranging from sixty months to life without the possibility of release.The majority of these women, men and young adults are nonviolent drug addicts.” What about the kingpins? The numbers can’t convey the absurd tragedy of it all. They did not sell or directly distribute meth; there were no hoards of cash, guns or countersurveillance equipment.To the men and women who drafted our federal drug laws in 1986, this might come as a surprise. Robert Byrd, cosponsor of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the reason to attach five- and ten-year mandatory sentences to drug trafficking was to punish “the kingpins—the masterminds who are really running these operations”, and the mid-level dealers. Today, almost everyone convicted of a federal drug crime is convicted of “drug trafficking”, which more often than not results in at least a five- or ten-year mandatory prison sentence.That’s a lot of time in federal prison for many people who are minor parts of drug trade, the vast majority of whom are men and women of color."Our results clearly showed that the strongest predictor of conspiracy belief was a constellation of personality characteristics collectively referred to as 'schizotypy,' Hart said.The trait borrows its name from schizophrenia, but it does not imply a clinical diagnosis.