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1 US: PUB LTE: Small-Time Dealers Get Long Sentences TooSat, 03 Jun 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Angelos, Weldon Area:United States Lines:33 Added:06/03/2017

In Heather Mac Donald's "Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your Ire" (op-ed, May 26) about mandatory minimum sentences (MMS), she writes that 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentences are only given to large-scale traffickers. In 2004 I was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison for selling $1,000 worth of marijuana while possessing a firearm. The judge who sentenced me called my punishment "unjust, cruel and even irrational" and compared it to the much shorter federal sentences given to repeat child rapists, murderers and even some terrorists.

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2 US: PUB LTE: Mandatory Sentences Often Hit The MinnowsSat, 03 Jun 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Ring, Kevin Area:United States Lines:39 Added:06/03/2017

Under federal law, anyone convicted of selling just five grams of methamphetamine-the weight of a nickel-is subject to a mandatory five-year prison term. Get caught buying or selling a second time, no matter how many years after your first offense, and you will be subject to a 10-year mandatory prison sentence.

Ms. Mac Donald may pretend that mandatory sentences are reserved for the likes of El Chapo, but the truth is mandatory sentences are more often used against low-level offenders. Ninety-three percent of people who receive federal mandatory minimums played no leadership role in their crimes. There are lots of minnows and few sharks.

There are simply no studies that show mandatory sentences reduce drug crime. Every dollar wasted on mandatory minimums is one that would be better invested in proven anticrime strategies like hiring more police officers and expanding substance abuse treatment.

Kevin Ring

President

Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Washington

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3 US: PUB LTE: The Accused Don't Want To Take The RiskSat, 03 Jun 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:McBride, Bob Area:United States Lines:34 Added:06/03/2017

The fear conjured up by MMS is a prime motivator in the accused accepting a plea bargain. Even with a person who believes he is innocent, the downside is too great. There is something not right about destroying accepted historical precedent of the evaluation by a judge and jury, who have heard all the evidence and witnessed the character, arguments and demeanor of the prosecution and the accused, in favor of the wisdom of remote legislators stroked by the DAs looking for a bailout for their inability to earn a conviction on the merits.

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4 US: OPED: Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your IreFri, 26 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:MacDonald, Heather Area:United States Lines:110 Added:05/26/2017

Mandatory Minimums Don't Deserve Your Ire Jeff Sessions's policy won't lock up harmless stoners, but it will help dismantle drug-trafficking networks.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being tarred as a racist-again-for bringing the law fully to bear on illegal drug traffickers. Mr. Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to disclose in court the actual amount of drugs that trafficking defendants possessed at the time of arrest. That disclosure will trigger the mandatory penalties set by Congress for large-scale dealers.

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5 CN MB: Judge Slams Law, Delays SentencingSat, 20 May 2017
Source:Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB) Author:May, Katie Area:Manitoba Lines:107 Added:05/24/2017

Gives mom convicted of drug smuggling time to arrange child care ahead of mandatory prison term

In a case that has raised questions about the effect of mandatory minimum sentences, a Manitoba judge has taken pity on a woman he convicted by agreeing to give her more freedom before he sends her to prison.

In a likely unprecedented move, Justice Sheldon Lanchbery reserved his decision and delayed the sentencing of 37-year-old Sandra Dignard by about two months. That will allow the mother of four time to make child-care arrangements before she is placed in custody. The judge said he has no choice but to sentence Dignard to two years in prison for drug trafficking, despite his belief she should not be locked up.

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6 US: Editorial: Lurching Backward On Justice ReformMon, 22 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY)          Area:United States Lines:67 Added:05/22/2017

When it comes to criminal justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a man out of time - stuck defiantly in the 1980s, when crime in America was high and politicians scrambled to out-tough one another by passing breathtakingly severe sentencing laws. This mind-set was bad enough when Mr. Sessions was a senator from Alabama working to thwart sentencing reforms in Congress. Now that he is the nation's top law enforcement officer, he's trying to drag the country backward with him, even as most states are moving toward more enlightened policies.

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7 US: Unity Was Emerging On Sentencing, Then Came SessionsMon, 15 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY) Author:Hulse, Carl Area:United States Lines:128 Added:05/20/2017

WASHINGTON - As a senator, Jeff Sessions was such a conservative outlier on criminal justice issues that he pushed other Republicans to the forefront of his campaign to block a sentencing overhaul, figuring they would be taken more seriously.

Now Mr. Sessions is attorney general and need not take a back seat to anyone when it comes to imposing his ultratough-on-crime views. The effect of his transition from being just one of 535 in Congress to being top dog at the Justice Department was underscored on Friday when he ordered federal prosecutors to make sure they threw the book at criminal defendants and pursued the toughest penalties possible.

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8 US: Mixed Grades For A Scrapped Drug PolicyMon, 15 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Reinhard, Beth Area:United States Lines:117 Added:05/20/2017

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week jettisoned an Obama administration policy that had been aimed at sparing less-serious drug offenders from harsh sentences, he called his new, more aggressive approach "moral and just."

But the verdict among law-enforcement and legal professionals is more mixed. Government data, along with interviews with former U.S. attorneys who advised the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, suggest the previous policy achieved several, though not all, of its goals.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced the policy that was to be embodied in what became known as the "Holder memo" in a 2013 speech to the American Bar Association. Mr. Holder pledged that federal prosecutors would focus on more dangerous drug traffickers and avoid charging less-serious offenders with crimes that required long, mandatory-minimum sentences. Mandatory-minimum sentences, he said, had led to bloated, costly prisons and disproportionately ravaged minority communities.

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9 US: Drug Lenience Of Obama Era May Be EndingWed, 10 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY) Author:Ruiz, Rebecca R. Area:United States Lines:114 Added:05/15/2017

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to soon toughen rules on prosecuting drug crimes, according to people familiar with internal deliberations, in what would be a major rollback of Obama-era policies that would put his first big stamp on a Justice Department he has criticized as soft on crime.

Mr. Sessions has been reviewing a pair of memos issued by his predecessor, Eric H. Holder Jr., who encouraged federal prosecutors to use their discretion in what criminal charges they filed, particularly when those charges carried mandatory minimum penalties.

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10US GA: Georgia, Feds Diverge On Policy For SentencingSat, 13 May 2017
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Bluestein, Greg Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:05/13/2017

Even as Gov. Nathan Deal was signing the latest batch of state laws designed to keep lower-level offenders out of prison, the Trump administration was preparing a crackdown seeking the toughest possible charges against offenders convicted of nonviolent drug violations.

The U.S. Justice Department released directives Friday that call for more mandatory minimum sentences and direct prosecutors to pursue the strictest punishments available. It was a sweeping shift in criminal justice policy, reversing Obama-era policies to reduce penalties for some nonviolent offenses.

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11 US: Sessions Tells Prosecutors To Seek Harsher PenaltiesSat, 13 May 2017
Source:New York Times (NY) Author:Ruiz, Rebecca R. Area:United States Lines:135 Added:05/13/2017

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered federal prosecutors to pursue the toughest possible charges and sentences against crime suspects, he announced Friday, reversing Obama administration efforts to ease penalties for some nonviolent drug violations.

The drastic shift in criminal justice policy, foreshadowed during recent weeks, is Mr. Sessions's first major stamp on the Justice Department, and it highlights several of his top targets: drug dealing, gun crime and gang violence.

In an eight-paragraph memo, Mr. Sessions returned to the guidance of President George W. Bush's administration by calling for more uniform punishments - including mandatory minimum sentences - and instructing prosecutors to pursue the harshest possible charges. Mr. Sessions's policy is broader than that of the Bush administration, however, and how it is carried out will depend more heavily on the judgments of United States attorneys and assistant attorneys general as they bring charges.

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12 US: Sessions Toughens Policy For Drug CasesSat, 13 May 2017
Source:Wall Street Journal (US) Author:Reinhard, Beth Area:United States Lines:122 Added:05/13/2017

In a move expected to swell federal prisons, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scuttling an Obama administration policy to avoid charging nonviolent, less-serious drug offenders with long, mandatory-minimum sentences.

Mr. Sessions's new guidelines revive a policy created under President George W. Bush that tasked federal prosecutors with charging "the most serious readily provable offense."

It is the latest and most significant step by the new administration toward dismantling President Barack Obama's criminal justice legacy. And it defies a trend in state capitals-including several led by conservative Republicans-toward recalibrating or abandoning the mandatory-minimum sentences popularized during the "war on drugs" of the 1980s and 1990s.

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13 Canada: Justice Minister Defends Proposed Maximum Penalty ForMon, 17 Apr 2017
Source:Globe and Mail (Canada) Author:Curry, Bill Area:Canada Lines:92 Added:04/19/2017

A prison sentence of up to 14 years for providing cannabis to youth is shaping up as one of the early points of contention as the Liberal government prepares to defend its landmark legislation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, makes clear in its opening passages that the main purpose of the legislation is to prevent young people from accessing cannabis.

Those opening statements are backed up with stiff penalties, including imprisonment for up to 14 years for providing marijuana to someone 17 or under.

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14 CN ON: Editorial: Big Challenges Still To Come For Cannabis LawFri, 14 Apr 2017
Source:Toronto Star (CN ON)          Area:Ontario Lines:121 Added:04/16/2017

The true test of Justin Trudeau's commitment to his sound pot policy will be how his government handles the hurdles to come

By tabling legislation to overturn Canada's 94-year-old prohibition on pot, the Trudeau government has put forward its first truly bold bit of public policy. And it's a good one. The ban on marijuana has brought a great deal of misery, while delivering few benefits. Yet legalization is far from a fait accompli. The true test of Justin Trudeau's commitment to this policy will be how his government handles the hurdles to come.

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15 US MD: Bid To Alter Drug Laws And Allow Some Early Prison ReleasesWed, 18 Jan 2017
Source:Baltimore Sun (MD)          Area:Maryland Lines:116 Added:01/18/2017

[photo] A cell at El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma. President Obama toured the prison last week. (Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images)

A bipartisan push to reduce the number of low-level drug offenders in prison is gaining momentum in Congress, but proposals may disappoint advocates hoping to slash the mandatory minimum sentences that are seen as chiefly responsible for overcrowding in the nation's detention facilities.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) surprised advocates Thursday by saying he strongly supported holding a vote on a prison reform bill similar to one sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a moderate Republican from Wisconsin. The measure has been languishing in the House Judiciary Committee.

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16 US NY: Pot Grower Serving 20 Years Seeks Clemency From ObamaSun, 15 Jan 2017
Source:Buffalo News (NY)          Area:New York Lines:173 Added:01/15/2017

Joseph Tigano III is spending 20 years in prison for growing marijuana.

He grew a lot of it. No one disputes that. And this was his second felony conviction. So no one, not even Tigano's lawyers, suggests the Cattaraugus County man should go unpunished.

But 20 years?

Even the federal judge who sentenced Tigano in 2015 thought it was too heavy a price to pay.

"It is much greater than necessary," U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford said at the time, "but I do not have a choice."

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17 US: Sessions Hints At Tougher Policy Toward Legalized MarijuanaWed, 11 Jan 2017
Source:Washington Post (DC) Author:Weigel, David Area:United States Lines:134 Added:01/13/2017

In November 2012, people in Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in their states. Nine months later, as the states worked out their local legal regimes, then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. issued a directive to law enforcement, urging them to let the states' experiments proceed. By the end of 2016, a batch of new states had legalized marijuana, and Holder himself was advocating for marijuana to be "rescheduled" -- meaning that penalties should be lowered for sale and possession across the country.

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18US NY: Cuomo Proposes Decriminalizing MarijuanaThu, 12 Jan 2017
Source:Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY) Author:Spector, Joseph Area:New York Lines:Excerpt Added:01/12/2017

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making another pitch for the state to decriminalize possession of some marijuana.

Cuomo quietly included the proposal in a 380-page State of the State message that he provided late Wednesday to the state Legislature.

"The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York state, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety," is on Page 191 of Cuomo's message.

The idea will again stoke a debate in Albany after the issue gained prominence in 2012 -- when the Democratic governor first made the push to decriminalize possession of marijuana.

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19 CN ON: Study Injects New Life Into Safe Needle Site DebateThu, 29 Dec 2016
Source:London Free Press (CN ON) Author:Richmond, Randy Area:Ontario Lines:83 Added:12/30/2016

Heavy with needle users, London could move a step closer in February to a supervised injection site for drug-addicted residents amid renewed debate about the idea.

The results of a feasibility study that surveyed 200 current and former needle users, as well as police, politicians, and social service and health agency representatives, is to be released in early February, Christopher Mackie, the Middlesex-London medical officer of health, said Wednesday.

That study won't suggest a location or timeline to establish a site, but one area Conservative MP already is raising the alarm about the possibility.

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20 US PA: Past Approach To Crack Addicts Harsher Than Today's HeroinMon, 12 Dec 2016
Source:Reporter, The (Lansdale, PA) Author:Yates, Riley Area:Pennsylvania Lines:378 Added:12/14/2016

Officials, former inmate contrast the emphasis on treatment vs. incarceration

When Leola Bivins was first sent away for dealing drugs, she was a 22-year-old high school dropout with a 2-year-old daughter at home.

Addiction was the center of the life she knew in East Stroudsburg, where she was born and raised, she recalled recently. Bivins' mother was a heroin addict - she eventually died of an overdose - and seemingly everyone around her was either selling drugs or abusing them, Bivins said.

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