My two cents on mandatory minimum sentencing
Mark Akin | Contributor
I was a drug addict. Here are my two cents on mandatory minimum sentencing, the kind that Jeff Sessions is salivating to force judges to impose.
No one, and I mean NO ONE, wants to be addicted to drugs. When you are on them, the insane cycle of hell that is created by your decisions to put drugs over everything else is very difficult to get out of. The drugs call, the drugs make it all better, until they make it all horrible again. And it goes on and on and on and lots of people get hurt in your wake and they give up on you. As well they should.
Shortly after speaking about the opioid crisis in Charleston, West Virginia, Jeff Sessions sent a memorandum to federal prosecutors across the country, ordering them to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” in all cases. The memo included specific instructions for prosecutors to file charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences whenever possible.
If you are reading this, it isn’t your job to understand that cycle or even care. If you don’t abuse drugs, and are smart enough to avoid people who do, then good for you. And I’m not being sarcastic. Seriously, good for you.
However, if you are the most powerful law enforcement officer IN THE COUNTRY it is exactly your job to understand this. It is your job to discern the cause of crime. It is your job to discern the usefulness and sustainability of punishments. Mandatory sentences look tough and strong and have a “hell yeah!!” flavor to them to a certain demographic. But I don’t think the demographic that supports mandatory minimums understand addiction. And so possibly in their fervor to solve a problem they don’t understand, a cycle of punishment is supported. And, like a cycle of addiction, it looks good and feels good until years later when it becomes retina scorchingly clear that all those decisions that felt good but weren’t just made everything really really bad.
Roughly half of the prisoners are in prison for non violent drug offenses, and they are being taught the ways of prison by the violent ones, we are not making the world a safer place . . .
People commit crimes and they have to be punished, it’s how society works. And lots and lots of people really really deserve to be in prison. But when roughly half of the prisoners are in prison for non violent drug offenses, and they are being taught the ways of prison by the violent ones, we are not making the world a safer place. Please don’t believe the smoke and mirror show that our AG is trying to sell us. Mandatory minimums for drug charges don’t work.
I don’t like getting political and I probably won’t again for a long time. Thanks for reading this far.
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