These mandatory minimum sentences are perhaps a good example of the law of unintended consequences. There is a respectable body of opinion which believes that these mandatory minimums impose unduly harsh punishment for first-time offenders -- particularly for 'mules' who played only a minor role in a drug distribution scheme. Be that as it may, the mandatory minimums have also led to an inordinate increase in the federal prison population and will require huge expenditures to build new prison space...
Mandatory minimums... are frequently the result of floor amendments to demonstrate emphatically that legislators want to 'get tough on crime.' Just as frequently they do not involve any careful consideration of the effect they might have on the sentencing guidelines as a whole. Indeed, it seems to me that one of the best arguments against any more mandatory minimums, and perhaps against some of those that we already have, is that they frustrate the careful calibration of sentences, from one end of the spectrum to the other, which the sentencing guidelines were intended to accomplish.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Mandatory Minimums: Liberals As Useless as Ever
Ignatieff is an improvement over Dion. However, the Liberals are still as useless as ever. The party's only redeeming feature is that they are not Conservatives. The Liberals remain a party of the status quo. There is nothing liberal about the Liberals. The party's platform is horrid mix of identity politics, asymmetrical federalism and neo conservative economics. To add insult to injury, the Liberals have allowed the Conservative to foster a uncritical respect for the military --- Highway of Heros excuse me while I puke --- and to run with a law and order agenda that has been completely discredited and abandoned even by arch conservatives, e.g., William Rehnquist.