Media outlets expose unfairness of mandatory minimum sentences
In the 1980s and 1990s, strict sentencing laws for certain drug crimes were passed in order to tackle the so-called “drug epidemic.” An individual caught selling just $10 of marijuana to an undercover cop would be slapped with a non-negotiable life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The language of the laws forced judges to implement such a sentence even if the offender’s individual circumstances didn’t warrant such a penalty.
Today, however, people are questioning whether such draconian laws are necessary. Presently, roughly 2.4 million individuals reside in prisons all across the country. As the U.S. prison inmate population skyrockets as a result of these mandatory minimum sentences, civil rights advocates and media outlets are taking notice.
Recently, there have been reports on stories of offenders who were given outlandish sentences who are still behind bars-in some cases even after 20 years.
despite lack of evidence, mother still serving life sentence
In one such instance, a 32-year-old mother of a 9-year-old was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. The woman was caught up in a drug sting that led to several arrests. No drugs were found on her at the time. This was also her first offense. Fourteen years later she is still behind bars.
judge loathes handing down life sentence, yet forced to follow law
In another case, a father of three children was found with 1.2 grams of meth in his home and indicted under federal law. The man received the mandatory sentence of life without parole. The judge who handed down the sentence even stated that it “far exceed[ed] whatever punishment would be appropriate.”
domestic violence victim still behind bars 20 years later
In another case, a 17-year-old was forced to participate in illicit drug activities by her abusive husband and father of her young baby. After leaving him, she was found, indicted and sentenced to life without parole. Now 20 years later, she still resides in prison.
desperate father still serving year 17 of life sentence
Yet another instance involves a man desperate to fund the bone-marrow transplant for his 2-year-old son. When he couldn’t raise enough money through legal means, he took drastic measures. He was indicted for meth distribution and sentenced to life. He is currently serving year 17 of his sentence. Even the prosecutor expressed his heartbreaking opinion about the case.”I saw no indication that [he] was violent, that he was any sort of large-scale narcotics trafficker, or that he committed his crimes for any reason other than to get money to care for his gravely ill child,” he stated.
Sadly, in all of these instances, the prosecutors and judges have no choice but to hand down such drastic sentences. The statutes mandate that there can be no deviation for individual circumstances.