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Former Chief Judge Speaks Out Against Mandatory Minimum Sentences September 12, 2007

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Someone in a forum that I’m a member of mentioned reading an article about 28 states repealing mandatory minimum sentencing laws. So far, no one has been able to find any factual evidence. I did a simple Internet search, and found an interesting document written by Patricia Wald, retired Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Her testimony was on behalf of the American Bar Association and presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights last year.

The subject was the impact of mandatory minimum sentencing in the criminal justice system of the United States of America. She sited an ABA commission to investigate the state of sentencing and corrections in the United States that was established in about 2004. Their report to the Annual Meeting that year called upon states, territories, and the federal government to repeal mandatory minimum sentence statutes.

Mandatory minimum sentences bring a number of problems. In order to have basic fairness, due process, and the rule of law, criminal sentencing must be fair between similar offender situations and proportional to the crime. Mandatory minimum sentences violate these two basic provisions.

She goes on to mention that mandatory minimums result in excessively harsh sentences, lead to arbitrary sentences, create disparities that standards were designed to eliminate, and undermine judicial discretion.

Here is the link to read the entire report: testimony



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