Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Mandatory Madness

Mandatory Madness (washingtonpost.com): "If the court forces Congress to construct a new federal sentencing scheme, it will present the legislature with an opportunity to rectify an unfair and senseless disgrace that it should have confronted years ago: mandatory minimum sentences. These are the harsh, often draconian sentences that federal judges must impose for certain crimes -- guidelines or no guidelines. Mandatory minimums are exactly that: fixed terms of 5, 10, 25 years or more, imposed without parole, and without regard to the defendant's background or to mitigating facts in the case. "

A friend of mine brought this up recently as a topic to keep an eye on. His contention, similar to the author of this editorial, is that sentencing should have the benefit of checks and balances, not merely just guidelines and the prosecutor, who may have lofty political goals in his or her sights. Allowing a judge some discretion in sentencing would, in their opinions, possibly bring common sense to the practice. Another interesting thought to chew on...

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