Pubdate: Thu, 28 Oct 2004
Source: Spartanburg Herald Journal (SC)
Copyright: 2004 The Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Author: Andrea de Ugarte
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


After reading the article in the Upstate on Oct. 16 about the race for 
sheriff, I see Chuck Wright as a candidate with a logical solution to the 
drug problem. On the other hand, there's candidate Jack Owens, whom I might 
have randomly voted for, being a loyal Democrat.

Owens is for stiffer penalties for drug offenders to resolve our drug 
problems. It's hard to believe some still think adding more time to 
offenders' sentences will fix the problem. South Carolina not only has 
stiff drug penalties already in place, it has strict mandatory minimum 
sentences. Oftentimes, small-time drug dealers must serve 85 percent of 
their sentences because these tough laws classify many of them as violent 

According to 2003 S.C. Department of Corrections statistics, 22 percent to 
25 percent of all S.C. prisoners are classified as dangerous drug 
offenders. More prisoners are classified as dangerous drug offenders than 
for any other crime.

South Carolina's strict sentencing laws are ineffective as well as cruel 
and counterproductive. The only good thing to come out of this situation is 
more jobs for corrections officers and more federal funds for the counties 
that house these prisons.

Chuck Wright supports proven methods such as building self-esteem and 
skills to combat our drug problem. I hope we can elect candidates 
regardless of political party who support what's truly in our best interest 
and who do not just tell us what they think we want to hear.

The community will demand answers, but it's up to our leaders to come up 
with well-thought-out plans that work for the long term and not just offer 
us the popular quick fix that doesn't work.

Andrea de Ugarte
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