Speak Outs
Speak Out
Should mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses be reconsidered?

May 6, 2015

By Jeremy Quattlebaum, Student Voices staff writer

In 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Smart on Crime, a policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from seeking mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses. The policy shift was the first time in nearly two decades that the Department of Justice did not seek lengthy prison sentences for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes in the federal courts.

“For years prior to this administration, federal prosecutors were not only encouraged – but required – to always seek the most severe prison sentence possible for all drug cases, no matter the relative risk they posed to public safety,” Holder said in his speech at the National Press Club in February 2015. “I have made a break from that philosophy.”

What are mandatory minimum sentences?

Part of the war on drugs in the mid-1980s, mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes were heralded as a way to curb rising crime rates.

“This was a different time in our history,” U.S. District Judge John Gleeson told NPR. “Crime rates were way up; there was a lot of violence that was perceived to be associated with crack at the time. People in Congress meant well.”

Under federal laws, minimum jail terms are mandatory for people who are found guilty of possessing, selling, or trafficking drugs. Aimed at getting drugs off the streets, the laws were designed to punish drug kingpins and street dealers with the maximum authority of the law.

In 1986, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, making the possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine punishable by a mandatory five-year prison sentence. A criminal would have to possess 500 grams of pure cocaine to receive the same punishment since crack is cocaine mixed with non-drug ingredients. Possession of marijuana also meant a lengthy jail term, which has led to conflict in states that have legalized marijuana in recent years.

Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, the bipartisan bill was championed as a way for judges to prosecute drug crimes with harsh federally mandated punishments. Reagan said: “Now in the 11th hour of this Presidency, we give a new sword and shield to those whose daily business is to eliminate from America’s streets and towns the scourge of illicit drugs.”

Nearly 20 years later, politicians and policymakers have begun to change their tune about mandatory minimum sentences. The federal prison population has grown dramatically, from 25,000 in 1980 to over 219,000 in 2012, an increase of 790 percent, reports the Congressional Research Service. This means that one in every 31 adults is either in prison or on parole for drug crimes.

Critics of mandatory minimum sentencing cite the unequal application of punishment for drug convictions compared to other crimes. Since the 1980s, the United States has experienced a steady drop in crime, yet the prison population continues to grow; larger percentages of the federal and state prison populations are nonviolent drug offenders. The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that nearly half of all federal prisoners are drug offenders. The Bureau of Justice reports that about one in every five prisoners in state prisons is serving for a drug offense. This growing prison population means more tax dollars have to go to incarceration. Over $50 billion is being spent annually just for state prisons, reports the National Association of State Budget Officers, and $7 billion a year to house federal prisoners.

Holder, like Gleeson, also argues that minimum sentences takes the authority away from the judge to determine the sentence and puts it in the hands of the prosecution, which contradicts one of the very basic ideas of our legal system. “Mandatory minimums, to some degree, sometimes entirely, take judging out of the mix,” Gleeson says. “That’s a bad thing for our system.”

Prosecutors have argued for mandatory minimum sentences, saying they present a powerful negotiating tool. Prosecutors say that drug dealers will often cooperate with law enforcement or plead guilty to lesser charges to avoid spending up to a decade in prison. Proponents also argue that minimum sentences, while harsh, equalize the punishment for drug offenders, insuring that individuals are adequately and equally punished for their crimes.

Bill Otis, a former federal prosecutor, argues that mandatory minimum sentences contributed to the declining crime rates and put criminals in jail. “There is a reason that stiff sentencing came about,” Otis says. “It was an answer to the crime wave during the ’60s and ’70s. And the answer has been successful. People are safer now than they were at any time since the baby boomers were in grade school.”

In order for mandatory minimum sentences to be overturned, Congress would have to pass a bill that would be signed into law by the president.

What do you think?

Is it time to reconsider mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders? Do you agree with Attorney General Holder’s move away from the zero-tolerance approach to drug offenses? Should the federal government continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!
Join the Discussion
 
 
 
limited to 2000 characters including spaces  



Thank you for commenting.
Your comment is awaiting approval.
Click here to view all Speak Outs
Comments
3/16/2016
Murrieta/CA
Vanessa H.
Mr.Jabro/CHS
Yes, minimum sentences for drug offenses should absolutely be considered. A good example is that people are being put in jail for 5-10 years for having possession of marijuana that they bought just for recreational use. That is just crazy and I think it goes against the 8th amendment. Serving 10 years in jail for possession of Marijuana is cruel and unusual punishment in my eyes. It's horrible for the younger people too.

3/15/2016
Stroudsburg, P. A
Sara
Mr. Hanna/ Stroudsburg JHS
I think that they should reconsider the sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. I do not agree the sentences should be an x amount of time based on how much they have in possession. I do think that the government should continue with the process.

3/15/2016
Stroudsburg, PA
Hope
Mr. Hanna/ Stroudsburg JHS
I feel that the minimum requirements should be displaced or at least lessened. Nothing should ever be met with a zero-tolerance approach. All that does is punish relatively innocent people. It's like a school saying to a kid who forgot an army knife from camping in his backpack that he's suspended for five weeks because that's the minimum and there's no room to budge. On a small scale like that, the scenario sounds ridiculous, so why shouldn't it on a larger scale? They should judge the punishment more based one he crime than the requirement.

3/15/2016
Stroudsburg, PA
Hannah S
Stroudsburg JHS/ Mr.Hanna
It is time to reconsider drug crime sentences. If someone is found possecessing drugs, instead of getting help, they are most likely to be thrown in jail. This is wrong, as addiction is a mental illness and should be treated as such. By not giving someone treatment, it is basically saying you mental illness means nothing. If you are selling drugs, yes you should defiantly be put into prison for that, but just possecessing and using? No, you should be required to get help for that, not sent to jail. Using drugs is an addiction, a mental illness and rehab should be required for that, not jail time.

2/3/2016
Fayetteville
Jordan
Andre Stewart/NCVPS
Mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders criminalizes mental illness, addiction, and poverty. Zero-tolerance programs effectively minimize the intricate and emotional circumstances that result in drug use. The government's first priority should not to be to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, but to use the law to prevent rather than punish such behavior. It is an indisputable fact that people do not genuinely aspire to be drug addicts and drug dealers and to demonize criminals outside of the context of their disadvantages makes a great waste of the nation's bureaucracy.

2/2/2016
Elkin, North Carolina
Hunter
Andre Stewart/Elkin high school /NCVPS
I feel that sentencing for drugs such as marijuana should be lowered. However if you are drug trafficking i have no sympathy for you and it should be a minimum of 10-15 years because you are ruining other peoples lives. Also if you kill somebody while under the influence of drugs there should be absolutely no reason for you to ever get out of jail. I also believe that a minimum for drug crimes such as crack cocaine and heroin should be no less than three years as well as a rehabilitation class while you are in jail. We have to help these people if they go to jail and are not given rehabbed they will just start again when they get out.

12/2/2015
Birmingham, Alabama
Kai
Parker/Spain Park High School
I believe that they should lower the sentences on nonviolent drug offenders because in comparison to all the other violent crimes and punishments, they are weighed equal but morally unequal for the types of punishment. I feel as if they have it backwards. Violent crimes have almost equal to less sentences as nonviolent drug offenses. The penalties should be reduced and as for the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana is also a great debate as for the other drugs are far worse than this.

10/27/2015
murrieta ca.
brittney
mr. jabro
i believe that mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is acceptable at its current level, but in some cases should be justified by the drug crime that was committed. someone should not have to go to prison for the same amount of time or less , as opposed to higher more harmful crimes that people should be punished for.

9/18/2015
Murrieta, CA
Davin C
Mr.Jabro
I believe that the Minimum sentences should be reconsidered in some cases. In my opinion, non-violent crimes shouldn't hold the same punishment as violent crimes. I do believe that beating taxes by selling drugs should hold a worthy punishment for those who are greedy.

9/14/2015
Murrieta, CA
michel
Mr. Jabro Creekside Highschool
The sentencing for non-violent is fair but unfair. people shouldnt be given the same punishment as those that committed a violent crime, but yet, selling drugs as unviolent as it can be can also be putting people that buy the drugs in danger which can be prosecuted for attempted murder. therefore the people dealing and or using in an non violent manner shouldnt get the same punishment as of those actually committing a violent crime but also shouldnt be given any type of special treatment but be prosecuted with the punishment that fits the crime but not copare it to a higher crime.

9/14/2015
Murrieta, CA
Gary
Mr. Jabro Creekside Highschool
The sentencing for non-violent is unfair. If the incident has caused no harm then why is it you can be given a longer sentence than if you commit a much worse crime. It's unjust to the convicted as well as the taxpayers. The money used to keep these people in jail could be put to better use on worse criminals, or better yet, actually used to get help for those addicted to drugs.

9/4/2015
Murrieta, CA
Austen
JABRO
The minimum sentence for non-violent drug offenders is harsh and can be seen as unjust. Taxpayers shouldn't be paying to house and feed non-violent drug offenders. With the minimum sentencing, the judge can't determine how bad the case is and place a correct sentence. The offender could only need to serve little time for a small offense but due to the minimum sentence it could place him/her in prison for a good amount of time. The drug kingpins and suppliers should be the main interest for law enforcement.

9/3/2015
Sidney, MT
Kade Jacobson
Mr. Faulhaber
I do agree that the nonviolent and small drug charges should be re-advised and shortened. Their is to many people who are being sentenced to life for very small charges. Those with small charges should be sentenced for a short time, but those who are drug dealers or kingpins deserve the life sentence.

9/3/2015
Sidney MT
lucas
Brad Faulhaber
I do think that its time to reconsider mandatory minimum sentences for drugs, because many people have been put away for almost life for small drug charges. However there are very dangerous drugs and drug users out there and we should be more focused on them rather than the nonviolent drug users.

9/2/2015
Sidney MT
Gunnar Gillespie
Mr.Faulhaber
I definitely think it is time to reconsider mandatory minimum sentences for and only nonviolent drug offenders. I think this because if your a nonviolent drug offender than your not causing much violence unlike crack and cocain dealers out there. Who are not just ruining people's lives but they are hurting other people in their community whether that be an addicts family member or just for a parent who has to feel that much more worried when there kid wants to go outside or leave the house for any reason. These drugs are not turning people into lazy unemployed couch potatoes. They are turing them into criminals.

9/2/2015
Sidney, Mt
Dillon
Faulhaber, Brad/ Sidney High School
I think we should have an minimum sentence on any type of drug. Marjuana is bad but so is alcohol it all depends on who gets there hands on it. People are going to do it anyways. If people drive when they are higher then a kite then hammer there ass. It's no different drinking and driving if people are going to drink and drive fry their ass. Dont just give them a fine. Make them stay in jail for a month and give them a fine too.

9/1/2015
Sidney High School
Cayla Norby
Mr. Faulhaber
Even petty drug crimes are serving minimum sentences, which we are leaving up to the prosecution to decide and not the judge. The minimum sentence is compromising parts of our basic legal system. Also, over $50 billion is being spent annually on state prisons and $7 billion a year on federal prisons. That money could be spent more wisely elsewhere in the government. For example, taking care of our returning home soldiers. The mandatory minimum sentences needs to be overturned soon.

9/1/2015
Sidney, Montana
Desirae Fasching
Brad Faulhaber
I do not think that the non-violent drug cases should be put in order as a mandatory minimum sentence because not all the drug charges/crimes are the same. They should justify the cases according to what drug crime you committed. Also you should not be able to put someone in prison for the same amount of time or less if you get caught distributing large amounts of drugs as opposed to raping someone or even killing someone. The government should come up with a better way of handling drug crimes, depending on what drug it is and how much they were caught with.

9/1/2015
Sidney High School
Braxten Larson
Brad Faulhaber
I believe that the minimum sentence should be changed. For nonviolent drug offenders, they should be arrested but not for a minimal sentence. I think our government should relax on the possession of drugs unless the drug has been liked to crime acts or violence. Prison populations are growing and it needs to slow down for drug sentences.

8/27/2015
Murrieta/CA
Robert Coates
Mr. Jabro
In my opinion, I believe that non-violent drug cases shouldn't be allowed to be sentenced to a 25 to life sentence. The reason why is because prison systems now create hardened criminals. For instance, a drug dealer is a criminal no matter which way you spin it, it breaks the law and the offender knows what he is doing. On the other hand, we sentence people who do illegal things for the same amount of time as someone who kills another human being. I heard about this story of a guy who committed a hit and run and killed someone, and was sentenced to 5 years in a state penitentiary, and a drug dealer who sold large amounts of marijuana across the Canadian- American border and was sentenced to 25 to life. I don't think that case would be justified. We create hardened criminals through the system, causing millions if not billions of dollars a year for someone who could learn there lesson through classes. The argument that could be argued is classes don't work, but why wouldn't we spend money on different types of justice. The war on drugs has costed billions of dollars in tax payers money, and ha killed many of citizens across the boarder in Mexico, and has made the U.S a cash cow for countries like Mexico, Columbia. This war alone takes money from tax payers, and into the hands of drug kingpins and government officials, and it gets hard to distinguish the difference.

8/19/2015
Murrieta/CA
Casey
Mr. Jabro
In my opinion, depending on what the drug is, mandatory minimum sentence isn't right. Now if its crack cocaine, meth, PCP, LSD, etc. any of those, i could see why you would get mandatory minimum sentence, but if it's because of marijuana then you should be let off with a warning or a ticket. Non violent drugs shouldn't be looked at as the drugs that are actually killing people.

6/5/2015
Stroudsburg/PA
Emilio
Mr.Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
I think the minimus should be reconsidered because people in jail incrsased by 70% and most of them are in the brig because of drugs. while drug abuse is still wrong, the punishments are a little harsh.

6/4/2015
Stroudsburg
Eric
Mr. Hanna
We should reconsider the circumstances of drug offenders. We should jail the only ones that does a serious crime act with very strong drug doses, and give a very small sentence to the ones that doesn't do a very serious crime.

6/4/2015
Stoudsburg Pennsylvania
Alefiyah
Mr. Hanna SJHS
I do think that it is time to reconsider mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. If the non-violent drug offender is not a harm to society, but had the possession of a drug that is known to be linked to crime rates (or had a drug that was also illegal), they should get arrested, but not for minimal sentences. We should not relax on the possession of drugs, unless the drug has been proved to be linked to crime acts. With the mandatory minimum policy, prison populations have been growing, which means more tax money on them.

6/4/2015
Stroudsburg PA
Justin
Mr. Hanna/ Stroudsburg JHS
I think that mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses should be reconsidered. Within the last 30 years the jail population has increased by 70% and most of them are in jail for drug offenses. Either way when people avicted for drugs are going through court they will often admit guilty to a smaller charge so they won't have to spend up to a decade in jail. I think the minimum sentence makes better sense because most states are legalizing drugs and everything they had changed as of lately makes the longest jail term automatically doesn't make sense.

6/3/2015
Stroudsburg, PA
Rebecca
Mr. Hanna/Stroudsburg JHS
I agree with Genral Holder's idea of loosening the no tolerance policy on drug offenses. If certain states are comfortable allowing legal marjuana for medical use than we need to have laws that allow for this to be used without fear of being prosecuted for possession of the drug. The kind of sentencing that nonviolent drug offenders recive is that of one who actually commited a much more serious crime for example rape. We cannot make people pay a higher price for a crime they did not commit.

6/3/2015
Irving Texas
Hans
Nimitz
Yes, we most definitely need to reconsider these excessive drug sentences. People possessing not even selling drugs will grant them sentences on par with murders and rapist and in certain cases can result in an even longer sentence. Yes I do agree, I feel the circumstances surrounding these people being sentenced should be considered and this war ion drugs should be reevaluated. No, we need to take a step back and really look at the nature of these offenders, a quite easy going father of fur that just so happens to smoke weed shouldn't be likened to a murder in regards to sentencing.

6/2/2015
Irving/TX
Sajni
Bradley/Nimitz
The sentence for minor possession of illegal drugs should not be on par with an excessive possession, and while punishment for the handling of drugs should not be relaxed it should also not be overly strict to where judgement is not handed out fairly. This allows for more long term residents in jail while small time offenders are kept for a long period of time then needed. Rather then that, they should base jail time on the amount in possession not whether or not you have them on you regardless.

6/2/2015
Irving,Texas
Anahi
Bradley/Nimitz
Crime in the United States have reduced to a good amount due to the law enforcement that has been put, especially the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. I just personally think that they should somewhat reconsider the amount of years for a nonviolent drug offender depending on their case. Sometimes in my opinion, they don’t need to be put in jail for that many years, because with that there’s money wasted for those extra years that comes out of every citizen’s taxes. On the other hand I believe that if you sentence a drug offender for the maximum of 5 years something in their conscious, gut, mind, or wherever will click and they will most likely think twice about dealing with drugs by the time they get released. I believe that they should just keep doing what they are already doing, because that has caused a decrease of crime here in the United States.

6/1/2015
Irving/Texas
Brian
Bradley/nimitz
The strict drug offense sentence for minor possession is unacceptable to do its debilitating nature to the rehabilitation of people who are not criminals. With the influence of drug culture in media, it is easier to snare people and influence the hurt to try out marijuana and other minor drugs; while I personally believe marijuana and other minor drugs are gateway drugs, the strict punishment is worse than not doing anything about it all, because it turns people into hardened criminals due to the exposure and draconian prosecution and criminalization they face. Eric Holder shares a concurrent view on the issue of minor drug prosecution due to the conditions we have now versus the conditions the law was created under, where it was entirely justifiable. The federal government needs to ease the prosecution on minor drug offenses and instead shift the focus to rehabilitation, so they clean up the streets by bettering the people in them, instead of just removing all the struggling individuals--the individuals who get caught in a bad place and their lives are ruined because of it.

6/1/2015
Irving/TX
Cynthia
Bradley/Nimitz
It is a fact that crime has reduced in the United States, and in my opinion, the reason why this has happened is because of the way the laws are enforced, specifically the enforcement on the mandatory minimum sentence for nonviolent drug offenders. By sentencing nonviolent drug offenders, it means that there will be less crime because they’re getting potential occurrences of violence off the streets. The only thing that bothers me about the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is that sometimes an offender does not need that many years in jail, it is money wasted on those extra years. But I also understand as to why that many years, because if an offender is sent to jail for five years or more, then when the individual finishes his sentence, then he or she will most likely think twice about dealing with drugs. In conclusion, I think the mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders is fine the way it is, it is obviously having an effect on the reducement of crime.

6/1/2015
Irving/Tx
Chellandria
Bradley/Nimitz
Everything is acceptable with the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses,but I also believe they should lower it as well. Other crimes doesn't receive the same treatment just because they want drugs off the streets. Also need to take inconsideration that nonviolent drug crimes aren't our only crimes that are going on. If the federal government continue to punish to full extent they should do every major crime the same,because it is only right so everyone will learn from their mistakes. It is only right to punish criminals to the full extent so the chances of them repeating the crime is lower. Attorney General Holder's zero-tolerance approach to drug offenses is understandable. Once knowing the main factor of the rising of the crime rate you just want everyone that commits this crime to be taken off the street, but in order for them to stop we will have to take the chances on them serving the mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses.

6/1/2015
Irving/Texas
Kamille
Bradley/Nimitz
The mandatory minimum sentence for nonviolent drug offenders is acceptable at its current level but it tempers with the process of rehabilitating. I think drugs are a very serious issue and those who abuse them need to have ramifications to an extent, depending on the kind of drug and its affects. I do however agree with the Attorney General's decision. People make mistakes and abuse what's given to them, and I truly think that has something to do with our culture, ranging from what makes an action packed TV show to what the media chooses to capitalize on. I think it is dire that we make these pharmaceutical abusers accountable but also be sympathetic to the reasons behind their usage and the help they need. Though my solution is unrealistic and built on favoritism (as if other parts of our legal system and government isn't), it is important to hold on to our morality and apathy.

5/31/2015
Irving/TX
Rabab
Bradley/Nimitz
Yes it is time to reconsider mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders because it will allow judges to impose more lenient sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenses. Furthermore, If a one-year sentence for a crime has the same deterrent effect as a five-year sentence, the additional four years of imprisonment inflict unnecessary pain on the nonviolent drug offender. I agree with Attorney General Holder’s move away from the zero-tolerance approach to drug offenses. The Federal government should continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law but in a way that the sentences should be based upon the risk to the public safety.

5/31/2015
Irving/Texas
Maggie
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drugs offenders is okay where it is at, its a very understandable and fair system. I somewhat agree with Attorney General Holder's move away from the zero-tolerance approach to drug offenses because it could keep drugs off the street.. but then you would be putting so many people into jail. The federal government should continue to the fullest extent because its helping.

5/25/2015
Irving/Tx
Sophia
Bradley/Nimitz
The mandatory minimum sentence for nonviolent drug offenders is acceptable at its current level. The Attorney General Holder’s decision to move away from the zero-tolerance approach to drug offenses was very smart, because from where it was set it would punish very minor criminals or even uninformed (and very misfortunate) non criminals, causing much more distrust and outrage than necessary. The federal government should continue prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law because it is keeping drugs and drug related violence and crime off of the streets. The laws concerning drug tolerance are designed to punish actual criminals for distributing, making and using actual illegal and harmful substances.

5/20/2015
Irving/Texas
Ali
Ms.Bradley/Nimitz
Mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders are hurting the rehabilitation process. If drug users aren’t punished they probably will continue to use drugs. There should also be programs that help the drug users are required to attend to help them get clean similar to AA.

5/19/2015
Irving/Texas
Rebecca
Bradley/Nimitz
Mandatory minimum sentences for minor, nonviolent drug offenses are a ridiculous hindrance on the rehabilitation of drug offenders because they contribute to recidivism rates throughout the nation. If a man is arrested for possession, but receives only a minor sentence amounting to a few months of jail time, he will continue to believe that he is really a good guy who simply made a mistake and needs to get back on track as soon as he is released. However, serving jail time potentially in excess of five years for the same crime of possession keeps the man in close contact with violent, dangerous offenders for much longer, and can change him from a man who made a mistake once to a man whose life has been ruined by the system and whose understanding of the world has changed to one of inevitable crime. Upon release, he will likely commit other crimes and be jailed again, contributing further to the already skyrocketing incarceration rates in the United States. It is inaccurate to attribute declining crime rates in the US to minimum sentences for drug offenses because this drop in crime rates occurred in the nineties, while the legislation in question was passed in 1980. If that legislation were the cause of the drop in crime, such an effect would have come into play much sooner than nearly two decades later.

5/15/2015
Irving/Texas
Abraham
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is a fair system that shouldn’t be tempered with. The nonviolent drug offenders know what they are doing, and are breaking the law by smuggling, selling, or using illegal drugs, so it is is an acceptable punishment for a minimum of 5 years of prison when caught violating the law. The federal government, should continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, however they should find a solution that will let reduce the citizens of the U.S tax cost going towards state's prisons.

5/13/2015
Irving/Texas
Jamon
Bradley/Nimitz
The mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is pretty reasonable with considering with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act that was established in 1986 saying that you can serve lengthy jail term. General Holder has a good idea on going about being more concerned or involved with drug offenses so, that they can try to get more and more drugs off the street however, at the same time he should still be concerned with zero-tolerance as well. Honestly the federal government should still be able to still punish to the fullest extent whether if it is drug trafficking or any other drug related crimes.

5/13/2015
Irving/Texas
Dana
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that the mandatory minimum sentences should remain how they are because it discourages people from doing and selling drugs. The consequences for drug possession is very clear and if people still decide to participate in drug related activities they should be punished like everyone else. They argue that nonviolent drug offenders shouldn’t be punished the same as violent drug offenders, but violent or nonviolent having drugs in the community is harmful to everyone living there. Although there has been a significant rise in the prison population, there has also been a decline in the crime rate which is what we want. The federal government should continue to prosecute to the fullest extent because it has been successful in reducing crime rates.

5/13/2015
Irving/Texas
Jayden
Bradley/Nimitz
Honestly, I believe that the minimum sentences are fine where they are. Although they could use some slight revision when it comes to sentencing nonviolent drug offenders and violent drug offenders. I understand that this policy presents the equality of punishment, but there should be a definite fairness in the sentencing. In my personal opinion, I believe that--if the government decides to keep these mandatory minimum sentences--there must be a minimum sentence as well as a maximum sentence that varies upon the amount of drugs in possession as well as their reputation. It is common sense for a young man who has five grams of cocaine to serve a shorter sentence than a young man who has a history of violence and severe drug habits. I agree with Attorney General Holder's idea surrounding this subject, however, I believe that Attorney General Holder needs to put a touch of reality into his zero-tolerance plan. Yes, the United States government wants to shape this country into the most safe, pleasant, and greatest Utopia that it physically can be, but they need to understand that--no matter how hard one tries--they're not going to guide the United States to a path of peacefulness and joy. Reality doesn't work that way. If Attorney General Holder continues this policy--especially with the increasing popularity of illegal drugs--, the population of (the) federal prison(s) will only increase. If the population of the federal prison increased by seven-hundred and ninety percent in just thirty-two years, imagine how much it will increase in thirty-two more.

5/13/2015
Irving/Texas
David
Bradley/Nimitz
In my opinion, I believe that it is time to reconsider the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Although they have been useful in the past, people have found ways to utilize these minimum sentences to get out of harsher punishments. I agree with Attorney General Holder’s advance away from the zero-tolerance approach toward drug offenses because they don’t allow courts to interpret the law. Instead, these sentences are giving the power to prosecutors to just hand out sentences because they have to; there isn’t much room for justice in case there are any mistakes. The federal government should continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, but in a different manner. Sentences should vary based on severity and risk to public safety. Anyone can possess drugs, but their sentences should depend on what they did. If everyone received nearly the same punishment for the same generic offense of “drug possession”, then it would be fair to say someone possessing 5g of cocaine could be charged the same amount of prison time as someone with 500g or more; sentences should be based on the severity of the offense, not because a law says you must hand out a certain judgement.

5/13/2015
Irving/Tx
Jennipher
Bradley/Nimitz
I do not believe that it is time to reconsider the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders because the reasoning behind these restrictions has been upheld and has been proven to decrease the crime rate in our country. In some ways Attorney General Holder’s move away from zero-tolerance approach to drug offenses is rightful because it would lower the taxes that citizens are required to pay in order to incarcerate all of the criminals, but at the same time anybody who decides that they are far enough above the law to do something illegal such as sell, traffic, or possess drugs should still be punished for their wrongdoings. I believe that the federal government should continue to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law because no matter the amount or type of drugs they are all still an illegal act and they should all be punished for what they have done. Yes, putting them all in jail may cost taxpayers more money but in the grand scheme of things would you rather have to pay more money to keep criminals in jail or have drug addicts and dealers surrounding you and your family at every place you go. I personally would rather pay a little extra money to keep them off of the streets than be surrounded by them in my community where they could possibly affect my families lives.

5/13/2015
Irving/Texas
Brittany
Bradley/Nimitz
Yes, the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders could be reconsidered due to the fact that so many people are put in jail for it while other offenders, some violent, are left on the streets. It seems to be an ineffective way of dealing with the issue if not all offenders are dealt with equally and in accordance to their crimes. I do agree with Holder's approach because we shouldn't always go for putting nonviolent drug offenders in prison for as long as possible without fully looking at their case and determining a reasonable sentence. The federal government should reserve their fullest prosecution for the violent drug offenders, not the small time drug offenders, unless their case calls for that.

5/13/2015
Irving/TX
Carol Fusaro
Bradley/Nimitz
It is definitely time to reconsider a mandatory minimum for nonviolent drug crimes because we are spending tax dollars on basically innocent individuals. I completely agree with Holder because not all drugs carry the same impact and to treat them all the same, with the same level of severity, is dumb. I believe that every case should be treated individually and all aspects should be taken into account. There are still drug dealers on the street so punishing to the full extent obviously has it's problems

5/13/2015
Irving/Texxas
eddie
Bradley/Nimitz
i think the term Drug is to vague to begin with, calling someone a drug offender could range from the head of a drug cartel to an average citizen caught with even a minimum amount. However i believe the blanket statement of "all drug offender need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law". to be overkill. In the case of illegal drugs i think the severity of the crime should match the severity of the punishment.

5/12/2015
Murrieta/CA
Julianna
Jabro/Creekside
I think that the mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drugs offenders is okay where it is at, its a very understandable and fair system. I somewhat agree with Attorney General Holder's move away from the zero-tolerance approach to drug offenses because it could keep drugs off the street.. but then you would be putting so many people into jail. The federal government should continue to the fullest extent because its helping.

Related News
Related Resources
Share