Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Judge Gleeson Explains All Regarding Unjust Implementation Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

In the Eastern District of New York, Judge John Gleeson has been providing sensible approaches to sentencing for years, but here’s an outstanding opinion providing Attorney General Holder and all defense counsel with a thoughtful and effective policy discussion regarding the use and abuse of mandatory minimum sentences. Courtesy of Professor Berman, here’s the link to United States v. Dossie, in which Judge Gleeson begins,

“This case illustrates how mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases distort the sentencing process and mandate unjust sentences. In the substantial percentage of cases in which they apply, they produce a sentencing regime that is worse than the one the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 was enacted to replace. They make opaque what that law was intended to make transparent. They strip criminal defendants of the due process rights we consider fundamental to our justice system. Most importantly, too many nonviolent, low-level, substance-abusing defendants like Jamel Dossie ‘lose their claim to a future’ – to borrow a phrase from Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. – because lengthy mandatory prison terms sweep reasonable, innovative, and promising alternatives to incarceration off the table at sentencing.”

Judge Gleeson then provides a valuable lesson on the historical purposes of mandatory minimums, which have often been displaced by knee-jerk over-incarceration of relatively minor players. He also notes the importance of treatment based court programs that are snuffed by mandatory minimum sentences. His analysis and suggested limits on mandatory minimum discretion provide strong grounds for appreciation of those prosecutors who wield mandatory minimum power lightly, for presentation of reasons unreasonable prosecutors should modify their approaches, and for deep distrust of a sentencing system that has transferred unbridled and opaque sentencing power from the Judiciary to the Executive Branch.

Steve Sady, Chief Deputy Federal Public Defender, Portland, Oregon


Anonymous Erin Baldwin said...

Ninth Circuit Pro Se, Erin Baldwin, Demands Action By Chief Judge Alex Kozinski http://www.prlog.org/11848198-ninth-circuit-pro-se-erin-baldwin-demands-action-by-chief-judge-alex-kozinski.html

Thursday, April 12, 2012 2:55:00 PM  

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