Friday, February 19, 2010

Yet Another Example of Why to Not Take Decisions Out the Hands of Judges and Juries

Read this story about a women serving 27 years on a first time non-violent drug offense. Tell me that her sentence makes sense. Tell me it makes sense when you know that this women is serving 10 more years than a similarly convicted person because she was busted with crack instead of powder cocaine. That's right, if a person is convicted of a crack cocaine offense the Federal mandatory-minimums dictate more time served than if a person is convicted of a powder cocaine offense. Even if the amount of drugs in each case is the same. Tell me that makes sense. The ACLU has joined in asking President Obama to commute her sentence. If you go to the ACLU's site you can ask President Obama to commute her sentence too.

Needless to say I think laws that take discretion away from judges and power away from juries are terrible. Mandatory-minimum federal drug sentencing laws are just one of many examples of such laws. GOP'ers usually say less government is good and to trust individuals. Generally, GOP'ers claim we should look to the Constitution and the Framers of the Constitution. Yet generally and ironically, GOP's support and pass blanket generalizations into law about law enforcement issues, for example, taking discretion away from judges hearing individual cases and power away juries of our peers in the individual cases they decide. "One rule fits all" does not work. Each case is different. Each defendant is different. Maybe people should pay attention to all parts of the Constitution, like the 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments, not just the parts of the Constitution that are easy to like.

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