Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2004
Source: Ledger, The (FL)
Copyright: 2004 The Ledger
Author: Teresa Whiting
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Today my brother was sentenced to seven years in prison for drug
trafficking. I know at first glance you may be saying to yourself
"good -- he got what he deserves."

However, there is a story here that needs to be told. Too many people
are unaware as to what the mandatory-minimum sentences mean. Please
visit the Web site to realize the unjust nature this law
has instilled.

My brother, was set up by an informant who was trying to get his own
charges of trafficking lessened. This person has been arrested for
drugs many times before and is now walking the streets because he made
a deal with the prosecutor to set up other people.

According to the law there are only two ways to reduce mandatory-
minimum sentence, one of which is to inform on other people.
Unfortunately, this ends up making the person who is most deserving of
the harsh sentence end up with very little jail time and the person
who is "nobody" takes the hard rap. This is either because the person
is unable or unwilling to "inform" on someone else.

My brother was living at home with my parents and his three children.
He was not involved in drug dealing until this socalled friend chose
him to take the rap and set out to set him up. I think he chose my
brother because he knew he did not have to be afraid of him
retaliating. I don't see how this is a fair-and-just system.

Basically, mandatory-minimum sentences take away the discretion from
the judges. They cannot use a check-and-balance system for each
individual case. Therefore, many people end up with harsher sentences
than they deserve.

I would love to see a report on this situation so that people are
aware that this law needs to be changed.

Teresa Whiting,

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