Drug War Judges Juries Mandatory Sentences
|March 2, 2003||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Give Judges and Juries More Flexibility
New Bill Would Reduce Out-of-Control Drug War
An action alert from our friends at drcnet.org
Every day, thousands of lives are disrupted or ruined by the failing, out-of-control drug war. Many of them are incarcerated for lengthy “mandatory minimum” sentences which judges have no power to adjust.
A new bill offered by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) would repeal federal mandatory minimum drug sentencing. The “Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act,” introduced earlier this week, would end mandatory sentences for possession, distribution, manufacturing, importation and other drug-related offenses, and place curbs on the ability of the federal government to prosecute low level drug offenders. Please visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/justice/ to ask your US Representative, your two Senators and President Bush to end mandatory minimum drug sentencing, and read below to find out how to do more.
In a press conference launching the bill, Rep. Waters was joined by Derrick Curry, whose 19-year sentence for a first-time “drug conspiracy” was commuted by President Clinton; and Karen Garrison, whose twin sons are serving 19- and 15-year sentences, also on first-time conspiracy charges. None of these people were guilty of major crimes in any meaningful sense of the word, yet years of their lives have been taken away by harsh, poorly thought out sentencing laws passed by Congress — without public hearings — in a political frenzy 15 years ago.
The Garrison twins and thousands others are undeservedly imprisoned and should be set free now. Passing this bill will only partially address the problem, as federal sentencing guidelines and state sentencing laws will still be in place. But it will be a major step forward to end some of the worst injustices, and we hope you will support it. Please visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/justice/ to e-mail and fax your US Representative, your two Senators and the President.
When you are done, please follow up by calling them or visiting their offices. You can reach your Rep. and Senators (or find out who they are) by calling the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or visiting http://www.house.gov and http://www.senate.gov online. We will let you know the bill’s number as soon as that information becomes available.
(The act’s title was chosen to make the point that federal agents and prosecutors are violating their mandate of targeting major criminal activity and are squandering vast resources by going after low-level offenders and giving them lengthy prison terms. While DRCNet believes that targeting major traffickers is ultimately futile as well, it would at least be far less destructive than the current incarceration of large numbers of primarily low-level offenders.)
Three more people have been arrested on drug charges just in the time it has taken you to read this letter. Please help bring it to a stop today!
While the biggest drug lords go free, government spends your tax dollars prosecuting small individual cases and then we pay for imprisonment. Is there no better policy? Tell your ideas to The Progress Report’s readers!