Pubdate: Tue, 06 Feb 2007
Source: News Journal, The (Wilmington, DE)
Copyright: 2007 The News Journal
Author: Thomas A. Foley, Esq.,
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


A reader critical of a recent News Journal editorial recommending 
abolishment of Delaware's mandatory minimum drug laws responded by 
proclaiming that such statutes apply only to predatory drug dealers.

Contrary to what this reader believes, Delaware's mandatory minimum 
laws do cast a much wider net, often including people who possess 
illegal drugs for personal use.

More significantly, the danger of mandatory minimum sentences is that 
judges are stripped of their role as a check and balance in the 
criminal justice system.

In the drug game, one size does not fit all. If relieved of the 
straitjacket of mandatory minimum sentences, Delaware should have 
confidence that our nationally acclaimed judiciary will be able to 
craft an appropriate sentence in each case, distinguishing predatory 
drug dealers from the corner tout supporting his own habit; from the 
first-time offender acting as a courier, the single indigent mother 
who surrenders her house to intimidating drug dealers, or a carload 
of friends in possession of a half-ounce of cocaine for personal use.

Although everyone recognizes the enormous challenge in combating the 
illegal drug trade and related violence that plagues communities, it 
has become abundantly clear that we cannot punish our way out of the 
crime problem, particularly with dehumanizing mandatory minimum sentences.

Thomas A. Foley, Esq.,

- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman