Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jan 2002
Source: Spartanburg Herald Journal (SC)
Copyright: 2002 The Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Author: Tina P Hughes


Mandatory Sentencing For First-Time Drug Offenders Removes Human Element

I am happy that repeat violent drug offenders are finally going to get long 
prison sentences. I am surprised that these people did not receive 
mandatory sentences when they were previously caught.

I'm actually shocked at this, because one of my friends is sitting in 
prison for a first-time drug of-fense despite no prior record and despite 
being a person loved by family and friends. We all wrote letters and 
pleaded with prosecutors to look at this friend's case with compassion. 
They did not, and the judge had no choice but to sentence my friend to a 
mandatory 15 years in prison.

Because of the mandatory sentencing laws, drug offenders who have never 
been in trouble before are receiving stiffer sentences than some killers 
and rapists. The prisons are filled with low-level, first-time drug offenders.

I cannot understand why there is no compassion for people who become 
addicted to illegal drugs. We go out of our way to help alcoholics and 
smokers. I guess because they are both legal drugs, that makes it OK.

It seems that, with illegal drug abuse, we send them away to prisons, and 
when they finally do come back, they have been introduced to a life of 
violence and humiliation while in prison. We need to re-habilitate drug 
abusers. I am not saying that they should not be punished, but the 
punishment should fit the crime.

We need to eliminate mandatory sentencing and allow judges to sentence 
criminals. That way, there is a human element involved, and maybe your 
friend or family member will receive a fair and just sentence.
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