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.
How to Save $24 Billion and Fix Our Broken Justice System

How to Save $24 Billion and Fix Our Broken Justice System

By Meghan Groob, Media Strategist, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:19pm

Here's a hypothetical for you: Someone approaches you on the street and offers you a big stack of cash with no strings attached. Do you take it?

Of course you do.

As much as we'd like to pretend otherwise, money matters. And that's…

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…

Hope, At Last, for Some Federal Prisoners

Hope, At Last, for Some Federal Prisoners

By Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher, Human Rights Program, ACLU at 4:53pm

Here's some truth for you: many federal prisoners would receive substantially shorter sentences for the exact same crime if they were sentenced today under the current law. Many would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Instead,…

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…

It's Time to Discuss Criminal Justice Reform

It's Time to Discuss Criminal Justice Reform

By Vanita Gupta, Center for Justice & Ezekiel Edwards, Director, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 2:51pm

Presidential election season is prime time for predictions. One sure bet is this: neither candidate is likely to make criminal justice a stump issue.

ACLU LENS: Supreme Court Rules Fairer Sentences Apply to More Drug Cases

ACLU LENS: Supreme Court Rules Fairer Sentences Apply to More Drug Cases

By Ezekiel Edwards, Director, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project at 3:28pm

The Supreme Court ruled today that the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (FSA), which reduced the disparity in federal sentencing between crack and powder cocaine, applies to people whose offenses pre-date the law but who were sentenced after its passage.…

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…

Senator Leahy Says “No” to Mandatory Minimums, But Will Congress Listen?

Senator Leahy Says “No” to Mandatory Minimums, But Will Congress Listen?

By Amshula Jayaram, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:29pm

Taking issue with America’s position as the world’s largest jailer, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) spoke to a group of Georgetown Law Students late last week about his vision for the Judiciary Committee’s agenda in the 113th Congress. …

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