Nation IN BRIEF : NATIONWIDE : Penalties for Drugs, Alcohol Compared

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Racial and class differences may be responsible for major disparities between the harsh prison sentences given to drug offenders, who are often low-income black or Latino males, and generally lighter sentences given to drunk drivers, who are predominantly white males, a study reported. The study, by the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes alternatives to imprisonment, noted that drunk drivers cause an estimated 22,000 deaths annually, with overall alcohol-related deaths totaling 94,000. Drug-related deaths, it said, total 21,000.

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