mandatory minimums

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Guy Fires Warning Shot, Gets 20 Years

Florida man says he was protecting his family

(Newser) - A man who fired a warning shot at his daughter's troubled boyfriend and told him "the next one's between your eyes" got 20 years for doing it—and by law has to serve every day of the sentence, CBS News reports. "And I was just like,... More »

America's Prisoners Cost You $260 a Year

Mandatory minimums, repeat-offender laws spiking prison numbers: report

(Newser) - A new report from a branch of the Brookings Institution notes that the US spent $80 billion on incarceration in 2010, an expense that translates into each American paying $260 per year to house our criminals. That's up from $77 per US resident in 1980, reports CBS News . With... More »

US Forces Guilty Pleas on Drug Defendants: Group

Human Rights Watch puts spotlight on mandatory minimums

(Newser) - Defendants in federal drug cases are getting unfairly sentenced, thanks to mandatory minimums and unchecked power wielded by the Justice Department, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Prosecutors basically "force" defendants into pleading guilty with threats of lengthy sentences and stacked-up charges if the case goes to trial,... More »

Holder to Ax 'Draconian' Drug Sentences

For low-level offenders not associated with gangs or drug rings

(Newser) - Eric Holder is set to today to reveal what the Washington Post is calling the planned "cornerstone of the rest of his tenure": a revamp of federal prison policy. And one part of the overhaul—a big change to sentencing for low-level drug offenders—is getting a great deal... More »

America's Stupidest Drug Laws

'Reason' breaks down the most ridiculous laws the drug war has produced

(Newser) - What's more ridiculous than the war on drugs itself? The plethora of strange draconian laws that have cropped up to support it. Don't believe it? Well, Mike Riggs of the libertarian Reason Magazine has come up with a list of the five most ridiculous ones. Judge for yourself:... More »

Holder Backs Release of 5,500 Crack Offenders

Proposal would correct vast crack/cocaine sentencing gap

(Newser) - Eric Holder today told the US Sentencing Commission that he supports a proposal to release thousands of federal prisoners convicted on crack-related offenses. Until Congress changed them last year, federal sentencing guidelines gave crack users—who are predominantly poor and black—much harsher sentences than powder cocaine users. Now, Holder... More »

New York to Roll Back Strict '70s Drug Laws

Gov., legislative leaders make deal to repel mandatory sentences

(Newser) - New York's governor and legislative leaders have agreed to repeal some of the nation's most draconian drug laws, the New York Times reports. The move to dismantle strict mandatory sentencing guidelines set down in 1973 means judges will have the option of sending many first-time nonviolent drug offenders to treatment... More »

Sentence Cuts In Store for 19,500 Crack Convicts

Federal commission mulls rule change

(Newser) - The federal panel that sets sentencing guidelines for judges may decide as soon as tomorrow to cut at least 2 years off the sentences of 19,500 inmates convicted of using crack, the LA Times reports. New rules introduced this month equalize crack and powdered cocaine sentences, and tomorrow will... More »

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