Pubdate: Thu, 03 Feb 2005
Source: Journal Times, The (Racine, WI)
Copyright: 2005 The Journal Times
Author: John Chase
Bookmark: (Federal
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Both your editorial of Jan 18th and Steve Heath's letter of Jan 27th applaud
the recent Supreme Court decision making federal sentencing guidelines
advisory rather than mandatory. Henceforth sentences will be fairer and more
consistent. But let's not forget those left behind.

Our prisons hold tens of thousands of low-level felons on the receiving end
of now-unconstitutional sentences, especially long because low-level felons
usually had no information to trade for a "downward departure" from the
guidelines' sentence range. The family-destroying impact on women has been
especially serious. In total we have over 30,000 women in prison on drug
charges, almost all nonviolent, mostly because they could not, or dared, not
testify against their men.

We should not continue to hold prisoners sentenced to a standard now ruled
to be unconstitutional. Releasing these people is not only morally right; it
is in our own interest to return these people - especially the women - to
their families.

John Chase

Palm Harbor, Fla.
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