By Sarah N. Lynch / Reuters

President Joe Biden's Justice Department is urging Congress to pass legislation to permanently end the sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powder, a policy that has led to the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans across the United States.

In written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department lambasted the "unwarranted racial disparities" that have resulted from the differences in how drug offenses involving crack and powder cocaine are treated under current law, and said the misguided policy was "based on misinformation about the pharmacology of cocaine and its effects."

"We believe it is long past time to end the disparity in sentencing policy between federal offenses involving crack cocaine and those involving powder cocaine," the department wrote, noting that as of March 2021, U.S. Sentencing Commission data showed that 87.5 percent of the people serving federal prison time for drug trafficking offenses primarily involving crack cocaine were Black.