Pubdate: Mon, 27 Sep 2004
Source: La Crosse Tribune (WI)
Copyright: 2004, The La Crosse Tribune
Author: Hal Scheie


At a time when many states are reconsidering harsh mandatory-minimum
sentences, the U.S. House Crime Subcommittee is scheduled to vote on
Wisconsin Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner's cruel sentencing bill,
the Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act (HR 4547),
this Thursday. If enacted, HR 4547 would impose new federal
mandatory-minimum sentences, swelling federal prisons with more
low-level, nonviolent drug offenders while increasing your tax burden.

HR 4547 would reduce judicial discretion while increasing racial
disparities in the criminal justice system. The bill would increase to
five years the federal mandatory-minimum-sentence for the sale of a
controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, college, public
library, drug treatment facility (or any place where drug treatment,
including classes, is provided), or private or public day care facilities.

The bill would also impose a mandatory-minimum sentence of 10 years on
any person 21-years old or older who sells drugs (including marijuana)
to any person younger than 18, even if they are friends or family. If
the person has a previous felony drug offense, the sentence would be
automatic life imprisonment.

Finally, the bill would tighten the federal "safety valve," making it
harder for judges to use their constitutional discretion to show
leniency to deserving first-time, low-level drug offenders.

Hal Scheie

La Crosse