November 18, 1988: President Ronald Reagan signs H.R. 5210 “The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988” into law. Creating Death Penalty for homicides in Crack Cocaine Trafficking. The new legislation established the Office of National Drug Control Policy and National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.
The Act, not only created a special Death Penalty but also mandated minimum criminal penalties for drug trafficking, conspiracy to traffic drugs, and attempt. Focusing on the Crack cocaine epidemic, the new law required a first time offender be sentenced to a minimum of five (5) years’ incarceration for possession of more than five (5) grams of a mixture or substance containing cocaine. A second time offender could receive a five year sentence for possessing more than three (3) grams of the substance and a third time offender faced five years’ incarceration for possession of more than one (1) gram of crack cocaine.
Subtitle A of the Act amended the Controlled Substances Act and established Death Penalty sentencing for “any person who intentionally kills or causes the killing of a law enforcement officer or any other person during the commission of, in furtherance of, or while attempting to avoid apprehension, prosecution, or service of a prison sentence for a felony violation under such Act.” –H.R.5210 – Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988
The new law also directed funding to the states for treatment and prevention programs. Creating Federal Mental Health grants for the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse.