Wednesday, October 1, 2008

MOST AMERICANS NOW OPPOSE MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES

Christian Science Monitor - In a new poll, some 60 percent of respondents opposed mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. Nearly 80 percent said the courts are best qualified to determine sentences for crimes, and nearly 60 percent said they'd be likely to vote for a politician who opposed mandatory minimum sentences.

"The public is ahead of the politicians on this," says Julie Stewart, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, which commissioned the poll and released a new report on the issue.". . .

Much attention in recent years has focused on the disparity between the minimums meted out for crack cocaine - often connected with African-American offenders and once believed to be more dangerous than powder - and the powder form. . . Those possessing five grams of crack cocaine - versus 500 grams of powder cocaine - face a mandatory minimum of five years. . .

FAMM's new report argues that there's no evidence mandatory minimums have helped reduce drug crime, and in fact, often focuses law-enforcement efforts on small-time players rather than drug kingpins. It also argues that the sentences have imposed significant costs on the system, by putting nonviolent offenders in jail longer than appropriate.

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