Jewish World Review March 4, 2003 / 30 Adar I, 5763
Michigan backing off of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes
It's lot easier for politics to say I'll be
tough on crime, put the criminals away than to
recognize a system is just too draconian.
BUT WHEN it comes to minor drug infractions-
possession, intent to sell, small amounts, the punishment just
have not fit the crimes in many states.
In Michigan, a first-time offender caught with 50 grams
of narcotics or cocaine, would have to serve at least ten
years, more than many rapists or robbers.
Sometimes so-called "mules," low level drug
transporters, serve more time than the kingpins.
Why? Because the only way to reduce the sentence is
to provide information. The mules don't have to provide,
the kingpins do.
Now as many as 700 first time non-violent drug
offenders in Michigan will be eligible for parole early under
a new law there.
That doesn't mean they get out. It means the authorities
have some discretion. They can evaluate whether the person
deserves to be released early.
The problem with mandatory minimums in these cases
is it removes the judge's authority to evaluate the situation.
Say that a drug leader with X amount of drugs is more
culpable than, let's say, his girlfriend, caught with him, who
he was beating on a regular basis.
If we're going to impoverish many states because of it,
I'd rather see the prisons crowded with repeat offenders or
violent criminals than with small time and first-time drug
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors The Abrams Report, Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Today and Dateline NBC. To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.
03/03/03: Why military tribunals could be the best optione of defining them as military
02/28/03: Is prez signaling a return to the American Bar Association ratings for prospective judicial candidates?
02/26/03: And now the "don't-blame-me" attitude is extending to mass deaths
02/10/03: Avoid politicizing the shuttle disaster
01/29/03: A litany of violations? That Saddam has not disarmed is already a given
01/23/03: Why the feds should not give up on the prosecution of alleged 20th hijacker in a federal court
01/22/03: What was Powell thinking?
01/21/03: Human rights groups still don't get it when it comes to the new war on terror
01/16/03: Yet another reason why we shouldn't trust the Saudis
01/13/03: Why the administration should share intelligence with U.N. inspectors
01/10/03: From a special punishment to a garden variety one
01/08/03: Should victims of a terror attack sue the city?
01/06/03: The "Jackpot Jury" syndrome continues
12/30/02: It's the holidays, let me order my wine!
12/20/02: The judge who dropped the ball in the battle over who owns Barry Bonds' 73rd home run ball, valued at nearly $2 million
12/19/02: Requiring Pakistani and Saudi male visitors to register with the INS
12/18/02: Why many seem to misunderstand Iraq's international obligations
12/17/02: Shouldn't there be a standard for what would trigger a war with Iraq?
12/13/02: Judge Rose by what he did on the field
12/12/02: Manhattan prosecutors making a mistake in the Central Park jogger case
12/11/02: Why our government refuses to fully cooperate in the prosecution of a possible 9/11 conspirator
12/10/02: Hezbollah, not a terrorist organization, says Canada
12/09/02: The world's cynical view of America
12/04/02: Why we need to stop electing judges
11/27/02: Why men should be able to sue women who lie about who's the daddy
11/26/02: Training lawyers to be touchy-feely
11/25/02: The story of a real American hero
11/22/02: In Illinois, academics lawyers, judges hurting their pro-life cause
11/15/02: A close reading of Iraq's letter of acceptance makes it clear that Saddam will almost certainly refuse to live up to its terms
11/14/02: Al Jazeera: A state-sponsored mouth-piece
11/13/02: Should Moussaoui be sent to a military tribunal?
11/12/02: Should human rights activists complain about the detainees' treatment?
© 2002, MSNBC