Thursday, December 02, 2004

Absurdity has a new name

It's mandatory minimums. The idea behind taking the sentencing phase for drug related crimes was to create uniformity and more importantly, for politicians to claim (in the Nelson Rockefeller mold) that they are "tough on crime,"

The Wall Street Journal reports, "when it comes to measuring the weight of drugs, procedures around the country are anything but standard. The amount of cocaine or marijuana in the defendant's possession is just the start: What really matters is how much a person intended to procure or produce. That question leads the justice system into a speculative realm where botanists, chemists and forensic scientists imagine what might have happened if the defendant had had more time or skill."

"... Prosecutors and defense lawyers have debated, for example, whether a man who hoarded bags of Chinese tea could have made a significant quantity of speed from it were he an expert chemist -- which he wasn't. Another man was caught growing thousands of baby marijuana plants. Had they grown up, how much marijuana would they have yielded? The answers to such questions can mean the difference of a decade or more in a prison sentence."

"The Supreme Court is now weighing whether the federal sentencing guidelines are constitutional. " I hope they say no. The whole thing is idiotic, that someone who caught with a couple bags of weed should do more time than someone who tries to blow up a plane.

We should make sure the judges in our city, county, state, and country are compassionate but fair and tough on crime and drugs. The legislature has no business taking away the judge's gavel on these issues, in my opinion. The arbitrariness of sentencing when it comes to predicting how much drugs they would have made is even more silly.

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