Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The Reality of Federal Drug Sentencing

The Reality of Federal Drug Sentencing

By Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 4:53pm
Federal drug laws create a labeling problem. When you hear the term “drug trafficker,” you might think of Pablo Escobar or Walter White, but the reality is that under federal law, drug traffickers include people who buy pseudoephedrine for their methamphetamine dealer; act as middleman in a series of small transactions; or even pick up a suitcase for the wrong friend. Thanks to conspiracy laws, everyone on the totem pole can be subject to the same severe mandatory minimum sentences.
Bureau of Prisons Has Great New Look for Spring

Bureau of Prisons Has Great New Look for Spring

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:01am

Despite the never-ending polar vortex, spring is in the air. From cleaning out your fridge to busting out your warm weather wardrobe for the first time in six months, spring is a time for change for the better.

Yes, spring fever is here, and…

We Must Stop Throwing People Away

We Must Stop Throwing People Away

By Harry Belafonte, Entertainer & Activist at 11:00am

There is a crisis that demands our urgent attention. For the last four decades, this country has been obsessed with expanding the number of people we throw behind bars and the length of time we hold them there. Crime rates have been falling for…

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:04am

Our country's federal prison population has grown by nearly 800% in the last 30 years.

Seriously. That's not a typo. Fueled by the failed "War on Drugs" and extreme, one-size-fits-all sentencing, our federal prison population has ballooned…

How to Process Eric Holder’s Major Criminal Law Reform Speech

How to Process Eric Holder’s Major Criminal Law Reform Speech

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice at 2:10pm

Attorney General Eric Holder just called mass incarceration a moral and economic failure. He just outlined several major proposals that he says will help to ease major overcrowding in federal prisons. And he just suggested that federal prosecutors…

The 1980s Called. They Want Their Mandatory Minimums Back.

The 1980s Called. They Want Their Mandatory Minimums Back.

By Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 2:27pm

Senator Leahy closed this morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on mandatory minimums by asking everyone in the room with a loved one serving a mandatory minimum to stand up. The whole audience stood.

This was a poignant display of…

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration

States Take Sizeable Steps in 2012 to End Overincarceration

By Inimai Chettiar, ACLU & Alex Stamm, ACLU Center for Justice at 3:48pm

As states begin to realize that they can reduce their prison populations safely, the pace of reform has begun to pick up a bit this year. State legislative sessions are coming to a close, which makes it a good time to review the actions lawmakers…

Congress Can Create a Smarter Criminal Justice System

Congress Can Create a Smarter Criminal Justice System

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:46pm

The following op-ed was originally published by The Hill.

If you doubt the unfairness of our country's criminal justice system, look no further than Hamedah Hasan.

When Hamedah was 21 years old, she fled an abusive relationship and…

Congress Could Save Tens of Thousands of Americans Today. Here's How.

Congress Could Save Tens of Thousands of Americans Today. Here's How.

By Alex Berger, Legislative Assistant, ACLU at 3:10pm

"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for too long for no good law enforcement reason."

That's what Attorney General Eric Holder said in an historic speech before the American Bar Association earlier this year. He was talking about people…

Murphy and Norquist: Congress Must Act to Finish Job on Criminal Justice Reform

Murphy and Norquist: Congress Must Act to Finish Job on Criminal Justice Reform

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Grover G. Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform at 1:26pm

Attorney General Eric Holder's speech to the American Bar Association last Monday, announcing critical reforms to the way the Department of Justice prosecutes and addresses drug crimes, was historic and long overdue. Not in recent memory has this country…

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