ACLU Hopes Candidates Won’t Make Straw Man of Sensible Sentencing Reforms

January 7, 2008 12:00 am

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Eliminating mandatory minimums is a step to fixing unjust laws; lawmakers should not fear reforms

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, a non-partisan organization, believes Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was mistaken when she called ending mandatory minimum sentences a controversial position. The organization urges all candidates, from all parties, to oppose mandatory minimum sentencing and support legislation to close the sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine.

The policy of mandatory minimum sentencing has led to thousands of people serving longer jail sentences and has contributed to the unfair sentencing disparities between federal crack and powder cocaine offenses that disproportionately affect people of color.

The following can be attributed to ACLU Legislative Counsel Jesselyn McCurdy:

“There is nothing controversial about allowing judges to give people the punishment they deserve based on the crime they committed. Mandatory minimum sentences take the authority away from judges and give it to prosecutors to determine a person’s sentence.

“Even a predominantly conservative Supreme Court recognized in a 7-2 decision in the Kimbrough case that judges need to have more sentencing discretion; that does not sound like a controversial stance. We want to change sentencing laws for one reason: to keep our justice system just. Doing the right thing is more important than the fear of a political attack. We hope every candidate will stand up against unfair sentencing laws.”

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