Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sentencing Commission to re-evaluate mandatory minimums

Today's Wall Street Journal points out that October's National Defense Authorization Act tasks the U.S. Sentencing Commission with reviewing federal mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimums, which remove judicial discretion in sentencing, are almost always for drug crimes, and have greatly contributed to the explosion in the federal prison population. This is the first issue I've seen the Fraternal Order of Police take a position aligned with Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

When I moved to California from Rhode Island, it had the highest unemployment rate of any state besides Michigan, making sentencing reform a high economic priority. Sure enough, this year the RI General Assembly voted to eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing for drug possession. The state legislature also decided not to return probationers to prison for violations other than the crime of which they were originally convicted. These changes, at the federal and California state level, would take a big chunk out of our corrections crisis.


Hadar Aviram said...

This is really interesting, Jesse. If we had a sentencing commission, perhaps it would follow suit.

peter said...

California unemployment is improving, declining over the last month, but conditions vary throughout the state according to this heat map: