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Ladies and Gentlemen,

No, I'm not just playing devils advocate to this diary which makes a good case for opposing mandatory sentencing.  But there is an even better argument for mandatory minimum sentences.

So, meet me after the fold...

Mandatory sentencing isn't new.  We already have mandatory sentencing for some of our laws on both the state and federal level.  This is part of South Carolina's law on drug trafficking:

South Carolina Section 44-53-370 (exerpt)

(2) ten grams or more of cocaine or any mixtures containing cocaine, as provided in Section 44-53-210(b)(4), is guilty of a felony which is known as "trafficking in cocaine" and, upon conviction, must be punished as follows if the quantity involved is:

(a) ten grams or more, but less than twenty-eight grams:

  1. for a first offense, a term of imprisonment of not less than three years nor more than ten years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars;
  1. for a second offense, a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than thirty years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of fifty thousand dollars;
  1. for a third or subsequent offense, a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of not less than twenty-five years nor more than thirty years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of fifty thousand dollars;  

Mandatory minimum sentence.  The federal law has mandatory minimum sentences, as well.  The problem isn't that they are new, it is that not every law has one.

But first, I want to look at the two top arguments opposing mandatory minimum sentences.

  • Mandatory sentencing is "one-size fits all" justice

Judge Paul G. Cassell of the United States District Court in Utah wrote:

Mandatory minimum sentences mean one-size-fits-all injustice.  Each offender who comes before a federal judge for sentencing deserves to have [his or her] individual facts and circumstances considered in determining a just sentence.  Yet mandatory minimum sentences require judges to put blinders on to the unique facts and circumstances of particular cases, producing what the late Chief Justice Rehnquist has aptly identified as "unintended consequences."

This is simply not true.  Look at the above statute for sentencing; a judge has the leeway to sentence a first time offender anywhere from 3 years to 10 years in prison.  That is hardly one-size fits all.  It is no different on the federal level which is covered under Title 21 United States Code (USC):

such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 5 years and not more than 40 years and if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of such substance shall be not less than 20 years or more than life, a fine not to exceed the greater of that authorized in accordance with the provisions of Title 18, or $2,000,000 if the defendant is an individual or $5,000,000 if the defendant is other than an individual, or both.

Sentencing is no less then 5 years and not more then 40 years.  Once again, this is hardly "one-size fits all", even on the federal level.  So this argument is pure fiction.

Mandatory minimum sentencing does not mean "one-size fits all".  It means that regardless of race, age, or economic status, at the minimum, all people will be treated the same in the eyes of the law.  There are also maximums that give the judges that very leeway they want.

  • Mandatory sentencing mets out disproportionate sentences

Judge Cassell wrote:

Mandatory minimum sentences do not only harm those unfairly subject to them, but do grave damage to the federal criminal justice system -- damage that will be the focus of my testimony today.  Perhaps the most serious damage is to the public's belief that the federal system is fair and rational.  Mandatory minmum sentences produce sentences that can only be described as bizarre.

And he goes on to cite the case of Weldon Angelos who was sentenced to 55 years in prison under mandatory sentencing guidelines as justification to his statement.

For example, I recently had to sentence a first time offender, Mr. Weldon Angelos, to more than 55 years in prison for carrying (but not using or displaying) a gun at several marijuana deals.  The sentence Angelos received far exceeded what he would have received for committing such heinous crimes as aircraft hijacking, second-degree murder, espionage, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and rape.

Seems very disproportionate, right?  Espionage brings a sentence of:

shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life

Which means that if you are found guilty of espionage, you can be sentenced to 1 year in prison, or to life in prison, or executed, at the discretion of the judge.  When you figure that Mr. Angelos was sentenced to more then 55 years and a person convicted of espionage could be sentenced to just 1 year (by statute), that does seem unfair doesn't it.  

But, it seems unfair because we are looking at two different laws that have two different sentencing requirements.  If both laws had mandatory minimum sentences, then it wouldn't seen so disproportionate.  

Let's look at apples vs apples.  Take the case of Martha Stewart:

Stewart went to trial and was convicted in March 2004 on four counts of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice.

Stewart surprised many in September 2004, when she agreed to begin serving a five-month prison term while her appeal was still pending. In October, she reported to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. She was released on March 4, 2005, after which she was placed under supervised release and required to wear an ankle bracelet for an additional 5 months.

The last of her legal battles were resolved when, on August 7, 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had agreed to settle insider trading charges against Stewart and Peter Bacanovic relating to Stewart's sale of ImClone Systems stock in December 2001. Under the settlement, Stewart - without admitting guilt - agreed to the maximum penalty of about $195,000, or three times the losses she avoided. Stewart also agreed to a five-year bar from serving as a director of a public company and a five-year limitation on the scope of her service as an officer or employee of a public company.[5] Stewart will be prohibited from participating in financial reporting, financial disclosure, internal controls, audits, SEC filings and monitoring compliance with the federal securities laws.

The obstruction charge itself could have landed her in prison for up to five years.  Martha Stewart got 5 months in prison.  What special consideration was there to warrant 5 months in prison and not 5 years other than she was rich and a celebrity?

Bounce Stewart's sentence against the sentence of http://money.cnn.com/...

Frank Quattrone:

Frank Quattrone, the most prominent investment banker of the 1990s tech boom, was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison and two years probation for obstructing justice and witness tampering.

Different judges, different sentences, different justice; same crime.  Now, consider if there was a mandatory minimum sentence for obstruction of justice.  The judges could have then taken into account all of these "factors" to impose higher sentences, but, both Martha Stewart and Frank Quattrone would have, at the very least, had the exact same sentence for doing the exact same crime.
 
Now, I'll agree that the mandatory sentencing for drug charges should be less then the mandatory sentencing for espionage, no doubt.  However, the disproportionate sentencing now is due to the fact we have mandatory sentences for some offenses while not having them for all offenses.

Consider if there was a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years for the offense of espionage versus a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for a drug offense.  The argument of disproportionate sentencing now evaporates.

So, instead of getting rid of mandatory sentences, I believe we should have mandatory sentences for all crimes that are felonies.  

Or, we can continue to see justice like this:

Ex-Enron executives sentenced to probation for electricity market manipulation

A federal court in California sentenced two former Enron [JURIST news archive] executives Wednesday to probation for their roles in Enron's manipulation of electricity supplies during the 2000-01 West Coast energy crisis. Timothy Belden [Wikipedia profile], former head of Enron's West Coast power trading who pleaded guilty [plea agreement, PDF; WSJ report] to deliberately submitting false data to California electricity operators to drive up Enron's profits, was sentenced to two years of probation. He must also pay a $10,000 fine. Another former Enron employee, Jeffrey Richter, was also sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for conspiracy.

A third former Enron trader, John Forney, pleaded guilty in 2004 [JURIST report] for conspiracy to commit similar profit drives. He is expected to be sentenced next month. Belden, Richter, and Forney are the only three ex-Enron traders to be charged with manipulating the California market. The Houston Chronicle has more.

How is that for justice?  A judge sentenced two ENRON executives to PROBATION for causing power outages that created emergency conditions in California.  The employee's were gloating over it:

"What we need to do is to help in the cause of, ah, downfall of California," an employee is heard saying on the tapes. "You guys need to pull your megawatts out of California on a daily basis."

"They're on the ropes today," says another employee. "I exported like a f------g 400 megs."

"Wow,'' says another employee, "f--k 'em, right!"

Probation.  That was all they got.  Why?  Because there were no minimum mandatory sentencing requirements and the "judge" just didn't feel they deserved more after causing chaos, and yes, I'm sure deaths due to the lack of power for air conditioning occurred, as well, from their actions.  That isn't "justice".  It is a mockery of our justice system.

Yes, it will mean retooling the laws themselves, and yes, that would take quite a lot of time and manpower.  But we no longer have justice in America; what we have is a justice system that rewards the rich and punishes the poor.  

What is more "fair"; everyone, regardless of race, age, or economic status getting at the minimum the same sentence for the same crime, or, only the poor who can't afford a high-priced team of lawyers going to jail while rich people get nothing?  

And yes, that is exactly what happens now.  When I was in law enforcement, I was in court the day a judge made the comment, in court, that because a man paid $5,000 to retain a lawyer to defend himself against a DUI charge, that was "punishment enough" for him.  The poor people who couldn't afford a lawyer, well, they got "other" punishment; like fines and jail and license suspension.

If we are to go back to a rule of law that makes everyone equal, mandatory minimum sentences for all laws is a must.

Originally posted to MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:16 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tips, flames, rants... n/t (6+ / 0-)

    The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

    by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:13:00 PM PDT

  •  because (19+ / 0-)

    the system isn't fair to some, we can improve it by ensuring that it isn't fair to anyone? might there not be a better solution?

    © 2007 "one must pay back from this secret deposit of exquisite moments" - virginia woolf

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:16:13 PM PDT

    •  how is it not fair (0+ / 0-)

      to say; "at the minimum, you will do X amount of prison time for violating this crime"?

      If you feel doing prison time for violating the law, then we may as well abolish the laws totally, dismantle the entire system and get rid of it.

      But at the moment, the only people getting screwed are the poor... and that isn't justice.

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:18:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe all crimes should... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DC Pol Sci, jxg, Turkana, debedb

        come with a punishment of 1 year in prision to life...

      •  Because wire fraud... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Turkana, Mia Dolan, inertiac

        ....by Enron employees shouldn't mean that people who commit much less significant wire fraud should serve heavy sentences.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:23:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Mandatory minimums (9+ / 0-)

        hurt the poor above all else. Since, they can't afford lawyers, they get underfunded, over burdended Public defenders who often  can't mount an effective defense for them and they have little real choice but to plead guilty to a more serious offense then someone who was able to afford a private lawyer.

        •  the poor are in jail NOW... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          I

          this is happening NOW... making a minimum sentence requirement will only hurt the rich who now can't get off because they got a lawyer.

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:31:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How do you propose making it stick? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mia Dolan

            I mean, part of the injustice of our system is that the rich get off easier because they can hire better lawyers, with better pedigrees and more connections, to play all sorts of legal games until their clients walk off relatively scot-free.  The poor do not have this ability.

            With that in mind, aren't mandatory minimums going to hurt the poor disproportionately?  Perhaps not in theory, but in practice.

            •  beef up pro bono... (0+ / 0-)

              we have too many lawyers now as is.  So, you make pro bono work mandatory for the profession.  All lawyers must do, lets say, 5 (random number) cases a month to keep their bar certification.

              The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

              by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:55:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your plan lives and dies (4+ / 0-)

                on the back of volunteer work?  That seems unreasonable to me.

                •  why is it unreasonable? (0+ / 0-)

                  lawyers do it now.  So, make it mandatory.  It injects a huge supply of lawyers to help the poor in court.

                  The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                  by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:43:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  LOL (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Gator Keyfitz, I

                    It would inject a huge amount of corporate lawyers, tax laywers, estate planners and other lawyers who wouldn't have a clue about criminal law into the court.   As a civil litigator, I know my way to the courthouse and know the Rules of Evidence, but I sure don't know criminal law well enough to put people's freedom at risk.  

                    And if I was a criminal defendant, I wouldn't want a lawyer who wasn't getting paid and was only fulfulling a bar obligation.  Public defenders are significantly underfunded now and that needs to be addressed.  To try to solve that problem with pro bono requirements is absurd.  

                    When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

                    by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:55:36 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  OJ (0+ / 0-)

            Didn't get off because he got a lenient sentence.

            He got off because he wasn't convicted of the crime. A mandatory sentence for murder wouldn't have changed his walking.

            Army 1st Lt. Ehren T. Watada, Lt. Cdr USN Matthew Diaz, SPC Eli Israel: true American heroes.

            by sdgeek on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 03:24:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm talking getting off in sentencing... (0+ / 0-)

              not in conviction.

              If Thomas Ravenel is convicted of federal drug charge, he will serve at least 5 years in jail.  If there were no minimum sentencing requirement, he could get community service because hey, he's a rich white guy.

              That is the difference and why I feel we need minimum mandatory sentences.

              Sure, being able to afford a team of lawyers to keep yourself from being convicted helps the rich and not the poor... but we can't change that.

              Sure, having a high priced lawyer, they might plea bargain to a lesser offense while the poor guy gets screwed... but that isn't going to change either.

              But for those rich kids who do get convicted, who don't get that bargain, a judge can't save them with probation.

              The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

              by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 03:32:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  There are many cases... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven, esquimaux, inertiac

        with lots of gray areas.  

        I believe the other diarist used the example of a woman who was convicted for passing along messages to her husband/boyfriend who was dealing drugs.  She may be technically guilty of aiding and abetting, but suppose all she did was pass along a phone number not knowing what the purpose of the call was.  Should she be sentenced to prison time for that?  An overzealous prosecutor would say yes, but common sense tells me no.  

        I actually think that we should have maximum sentences for crimes but no minimum at all.  For example, a woman with no criminal record and no history of violence fights back against an abusive husband who has put her in the hospital a few times and he winds up dead.  While technically guilty of murder, she may pose no further threat to society in the future.  Should she go to jail for years, perhaps leaving children behind to be cared for by others or the state?

        I would rather have judges do what we pay them for, using their best judgment.

        The meek shall inherit nothing. -F.Zappa

        by cometman on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:35:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  instead of a trial by judge and jury (8+ / 0-)

    let's just have a processing system.

    once the cops get the evidence, the can punch in the statutes and send the offender on their way.

    •  total overreaction... (2+ / 0-)

      We are talking sentencing.

      Once a person is convicted of the crime, the sentencing guidelines should make sure everyone is equally treated.

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:19:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hardly an overreaction (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jxg, cosbo, Pozzo, The Raven, I, inertiac

        taking the human discretion out of sentencing with mandatory minimums is not justice.

        •  then abolish the laws totally so (0+ / 0-)

          nobody goes to prison...

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:27:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  wow, what a great suggestion (5+ / 0-)

            on par with the rest of this diary.

            and you know what?  despite your worthless reply, i want to point out i am for living in a free country, not a prison state.

            you want to explain to me why our country has more people in jail than china, despite china having a population is that is 400% larger, and despite our country being "free" while china is a communist state?

            i'm sure everyone in jail belongs there.  crooks go to prison, right?  get tough on crime, get tough on drugs!!

            that behemmoth industrial prison complex that is turning mild offenders into harden criminals and draining the resources of our nation is surely the best way to go !!

            let me turn your comment upside down, since you don't do nuance.  since i am against mandatory minimum sentencing, i am against anyone going to jail.

            so apply that logic to what you are saying, and you are for us all going to jail?

            makes sense coming from a pig.

            •  A Pig? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              indefinitelee, Gator Keyfitz, I

              Isn't that kind of childish?

              "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

              by mpwife on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:34:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  isn't it childish (0+ / 0-)

                to assert that i want nobody to go to jail?

                and i am so sick of the stratifications in our society, as in, cops become cops so they aren't civilians.  so they can break the law.  so they can enforce the law when other people break it.

                cops are cops, but pigs are pigs.  jury is still out on motley, but he earns the name calling in this instance for his deliberate and childish response.

                •  as an addendum (0+ / 0-)

                  i did not actually call him a pig, that "childish" name calling is contingent on his belief that we all go to jail, which is contingent on his ridiculous logic that asserts my position is that nobody goes to jail.

                  since that is ridiculous logic, i do not actually think he wants everyone to go jail, and as i said above, i do not yet know if motley is a pig or a cop, but any cop who says we all need to go to jail is a pig.

                  •  try reading the laws as they are written (0+ / 0-)

                    most of the statutes read prison, and/or fine.

                    Now, the poor person is convicted.  They get a fine of say $1,000.  They can't pay it.  They are summarily jailed for failure to pay.

                    The rich kid, well, that $1,000 is nothing.  They get no jail at all.

                    I almost fell over when I heard that judge say what he said... I was "WHAT?"

                    It has gotten so bad now, that merely GETTING the lawyer is being seen as "punishment".

                    There has to be a way to bring the system into some kind of equality... status quo is now not an option unless all you want in prison is the poor.

                    NO system will be perfect... but our current system is now too skewed to favor the rich.

                    The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                    by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:01:20 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  The latest bug up my ass (4+ / 0-)

                is that there seems to be a preponderance of commentary here ridiculing, rather than debating, unpopular viewpoints.

                •  plenty of debate (0+ / 0-)

                  the latest bug up my ass are commenters with their selective reading and/or lack of comprehension skills.

                  take your pick which of the above apply to you.

                  (this comment includes a refutation of your comment, if you read it carefully)

                  •  More specifically there are pleanty of times when (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    I

                    someone post a diary and comments and then ignore the dozom or so links to fact refuting the post, or even the quality arguments that dispute the posts, so someone says "hey, asshole, delete this crap" and that one gets respoded to - cries of free speech - read the fucking FAQs etc.

                    Overall, this diary and diarist has been much better than that.  I still don't agree, but they have been willing to debate many of the points brought up so kudos for that.

                    "For me, walking into a nice Jewish deli IS a religious experience." -my mom

                    by ETinKC on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:05:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes, there is plenty of good debate, (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ETinKC, Stampy51, KozmoD

                    some of it coming from you.  Which is why I find it a bit frustrating that you also need to resort to name-calling when you have such perfectly valid arguments elsewhere.

                    In any case, my comment is not just about you, though it's in reply to you (in a roundabout way).  There's needless ridicule up and down this diary.  I think MotleyPatriot is very wrong in his points, but I don't see what is gained by every poster trying to scream louder than the last guy about what an idiot MotleyPatriot is.

                    •  i apologize (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      I

                      sincerely and humbly because i know you are right

                      •  Oh ... thanks ... (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Stampy51, MotleyPatriot, mpwife

                        It is seriously disarming when your "opponent" acts graciously, isn't it?

                        I know I get a bit sarcastic and insulting sometimes, so I'm not trying to be Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes here.  I just find that more gets accomplished when I take ideas seriously, even when I believe they're ultimately unworkable or ineffective.  MotleyPatriot made me think, and even though I still think his idea won't work, I try to do everything I can to prevent us from turning into an echo chamber where only accepted ideas are permitted.

                        Speaking of quixotic ...  :)

                •  You noticed that too? n/t. (0+ / 0-)

                  "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

                  by mpwife on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:05:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Whoa, "pig" is not cool (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              The Raven, mpwife

              For one thing, it makes you sound like an extra on Kojak.  For another, it prevents communication by demeaning another human being.  

              No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

              by Gator Keyfitz on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:45:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

                •  I've heard that sort of reasoning before (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  I, mpwife

                  Though usually it is a racist or homophobe explaining how they don't hate all black people or gay people, just the one who are n-----s or f-----ts.  Not saying that you are on that level, just that your reasoning is similarly suspect.

                  No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

                  by Gator Keyfitz on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:51:42 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  how is it racist (0+ / 0-)

                    i didn't realize employment was a master status factor like race.  i didn't realize people are born pigs.  it's no different than saying "some cops are assholes, some are not"

                    if you know any law enforcement, they know there are cops and there are pigs.  some take the job to serve and protect, and others for the power trip.

                    your theory just does not wash in this instance.

                    •  Let's work on reading comprehension first (0+ / 0-)

                      I specifically said that you were not on the level of a racist or homophobe, didn't I?  What I said was that the reasoning you employed to justify demeaning another human being was analagous to the reasoning I have heard from racists and homophobes to justify their use of slurs.  That's not a theory, dude, that's a fact.

                      No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

                      by Gator Keyfitz on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:05:34 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  still doesn't match (0+ / 0-)

                        i understand you weren't calling me racist.  i just don't see how your comment applies to mine

                        •  also, to imply (0+ / 0-)

                          that i use the same reasoning and defense as a homophobe or racist is pretty offensive, and as i have said before, entirely incorrect.

                          •  I obviously find calling another Kossack (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mpwife

                            "pig" because they identify as someone who has worked in law enfocement pretty offensive, not to mention pretty counterproductive if you want to bring him around to understanding your point of view.

                            Maybe it helps to spend more time in rural Indiana where racists often defend themselves for usung the n-word by saying something like, "I'm not saying all black people are n-----rs!  Some are OK.  I just hate the ones who act like n-----rs!"  An oddly popular yet obviously deeply flawed argument I have heard all too many times.  When you defended your use of a slur by saying you were only talking about the members of the group who fit your definition of the slur, I was reminded of these other arguments.  The problem is using a slur at all, obviously; pointing out that some members of a group behave in ways that you perceive as slur-worthy is really irrelevant.

                            I can't explain it any clearer than that.  Regards.

                            No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

                            by Gator Keyfitz on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:32:06 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  i've heard that sort of reasoning before (0+ / 0-)

                    though it is usually a white supremacist that says it.  not to say that i am calling you a white supremacist or saying you think like one, i just wanted to point out how similiarly you and white supremacists frame an argument, not to imply that you are like a white supremacist or anything like that.

              •  Yes - I prefer "harness bulls" myself (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                I

                Although that went out a few decades before "fuzz."

                So I'm going with "the Man."

                Keep cops kosher!

                Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

                by The Raven on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:07:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  All convictions are NOT equal (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cosbo, The Raven, Mia Dolan

        Jack Kervorkian was convicted of murder for assisting a man who was terminally ill and wanted to die. OTher peopel are convicted of brutal murders like with Matthew Sheppard or Johnny Byrd. Do those crimes call for equal sentences?

        •  there are minimums... and MAXIMUMS... (0+ / 0-)

          when you understand that difference... then you will no longer be able to say both are treated equally.

          The minimum is just that... MINIMUM... meaning nobody walks.

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:28:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  the whole federal system is questionable (0+ / 0-)

        mandatory minimun sentencing was a bad idea when it was passed and remains so today ... there are many reasons why this type of system is unfair ... both overtly and covertly ... too many to review them all. let me just add one concern that seems to be overlooked most the time.

        presentence reports, written by US Probation Officers, are utilized to assign the sentencing range for all federal offenders. after reading hundreds of these PSIs, i can assure you it is not a uniform process and allows the author of the document too much "latitude" in valuing a defendant's life. additionally, different districts stress different events ... what may be important in the district of florida may be overlooked in oregon. this is especially true when it comes to medical usage of marijuana and other drugs.

        finally, it seems to me if we truly pick the best and brightest for the federal bench ... wouldnt it behove us, to allow them to utilize their judgment.  

        Even a little dog can piss on a big building." Jim Hightower

        by bamabarrron on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 03:13:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand that the system has failures (0+ / 0-)

          in almost every sector.

          Allowing them to utilize their judgment is why the two guys who terrorized california are on probation instead of in jail.  How good was that "judgment"?

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 03:20:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Mandatory sentences (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vivacia, cosbo, The Raven, esquimaux, willb48, I

    Sound like a good idea, but in practice, they create a lot of injustice. They don't recognize the difference between a college kid who F ed up and got caught with drugs and a hardcore drug dealer.

    •  So, there should be two laws then... (0+ / 0-)

      One law for stupid people and the second for... who?  Isn't dealing drugs stupid????

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:21:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no, one law (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cosbo, Stampy51, The Raven, willb48

        Just allow the judges to use their experience on the bench, their knowledge of the law and facts of the case to apply it.

        •  that is my point... they still are... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          I

          This isn't about them not having the leeway, it is about them giving probation to the rich while putting the poor in jail.

          That is now fact.  It is happening.

          There is only one way to stop it.

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:26:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are mandatory minimum laws NOW (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jxg, Pozzo, The Raven, willb48, I, shanay

            and it's not working...the poor black kid with the public defender will get fucked up the ass and the middle class white kid from a nice background will get a tap on the wrist.

            •  so, you are arguing for no leeway then? (0+ / 0-)

              "one-sentence fits all" regardless?

              The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

              by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:34:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There is no one size fits all justice (0+ / 0-)

                there's who's got the money or who don't justice. The decisions are usually made BEFORE the case even gets to court. The proscecutors cut cute little deals with defendants, maybe a little snitchin' here and there and presto, you have charges massaged to fit mostly the government. They've got to keep up their quota of minority in prisons afterall.

                Mandatory minimum laws are just to benefit one group of people. It's just a tool in the maintainance of the economy in the prison industrial complex. The "good" people have to pay their bills afterall.

            •  That's why the original post (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              I

              is not a good argument against minimums.  There was a problem when judges sentenced "good kids who made a mistake" (ie, white people) less severely than the "hardcorecore drug dealer" (ie, any black person caught with or near drugs).  

              I don't think eliminating such disparities was the original motive, mind you, given the disparities that were written into the law.

              No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

              by Gator Keyfitz on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:35:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree there are disparities in some of them now (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                I

                and those should be changed... or just find a new drug of choice.

                But yes, they were instituted because white kids were getting slapped on the wrist while non-whites were getting harsh sentences and the legislators tried to get some fairness back.

                The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:52:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think the problem is not that the laws (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  The Raven

                  are inadequate, but rather that not enough people are interested in fair and equal enforcement.  Yeah, occasionally some fair-minded legislators will try to do something about sentencing disparity, but it's a quixotic quest unless prosecutors and judges are willing to apply the new laws more fairly than they applied the old ones.

                  •  since judges became political, there is little (0+ / 0-)

                    that will fix that.  It is lawyers who become judges and lawyers who write the laws.

                    I don't see a lawyer writing a law that brings judges in line.

                    The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                    by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:07:31 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I had the impression that the driving force (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  stringer bell, I

                  was a perception that lenient judges were coddling criminals in general.

                  The problem with your argument was that the law's authors then proceeded to make the minimum for crack much higher than for powdered cocaine and that's only the best known example), thus seeming to make statutory what you claim they were trying to prevent.

                  No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

                  by Gator Keyfitz on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:58:55 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  like I've said... (0+ / 0-)

                    that one should be retooled...

                    but if we really wanted it equal, then, the only way to make it equal is to make all drugs the same sentence, and how hard will people scream when the marijuana users are sentenced as crack users?

                    See the problem?

                    The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                    by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:11:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Prosecutors get the priveleged out (6+ / 0-)

            by adjusting the charging levels.

            Democratic Candidate for US Senator, Wisconsin, in 2012

            Gravel for President, 2008

            by ben masel on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:35:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  dealing drugs (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stringer bell, debedb, inertiac

        is actually a great way to make some extra spending cash.  It's being an entrepreneur too, in the true American spirit.

        Don't start a blog, build a community with SoapBlox - the NEW blog framework.

        by pacified on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:34:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Question (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pozzo, The Raven, esquimaux, willb48

    Do you hold the same view for "Zero Tolerance" rules for kids who bring a cough drop or aspirin to school?

    George W. Bush, the near-miss messiah.

    by OCMIHOP on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:19:43 PM PDT

    •  the people going overboard on cough drops (0+ / 0-)

      just need to be smacked upside the head.

      There is a distinct difference between a person having a bag of cocaine and a cough drop.

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:23:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No no no! (6+ / 0-)

        Mandatory minimums mean zero tolerance, no exceptions, no distinctions. Just mindless, automatic conveyor belts feeding citizens into the razor-jawed mouth of the incarceration system.

        Everybody pays.

        Nobody walks.

        Right?

        No, wrong. What you've got, MotleyP, is a failure of imagination. It is easy to conceive of a sort of generic felon who deserves to go to prison. And if they're all like that, then maybe you have some kind of point regarding fairness.

        But it isn't like that.

        At some point, a judge should be able to make an assessment regarding whether sentencing a person to prison is an appropriate penalty or not. Maybe in some cases a fine is better justice. Or restitution. Or community service. Or probation. That's because the prison experience is generally not one that produces better citizens - we stopped focusing on rehabilitation quite some time ago.

        Maybe we're just too different to reach agreement here but I tell ya, I'm not feeling real good lately about Prison State America with 3 million behind bars and counting. There has to be a better way. Mandatory maximums? I might go for that.

        Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

        by The Raven on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:49:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  For a justice system to work it has to have (0+ / 0-)

          3 things:

          1. Be certain
          1. Be swift
          1. Be severe

          Our's has none of them... it isn't certain, swift or severe.  There is no deterrent at all for people not to do crime.  

          That is why the 3 strikes law came about... that is why our founding fathers wrote in Due Process and swift trial.

          I spent 6 years on the road... I know how broke it is.

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:14:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Severe? (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            stringer bell, debedb, esquimaux, Mia Dolan, I

            Why does the justice system have to be severe?

            Have you ever compared our system with that of Japan? Or of Great Britain? Compared with ours, you'd think those other countries are mollycoddling prisoners. Guy gets convicted of armed robbery, over there, 3 years is a fairly long sentence.

            See, I think that what's happened over time is that we've experienced "sentencing inflation." You know, you're reading the paper, you see some crook got nabbed and he got, what, 25 years? And you think, yeah, that sounds pretty good - a nice long stay.

            The Japanese and British seem to value liberty more highly and feel that incarceration is a very harsh experience. Several years is a very long time. But for us? We act like 8 or 9 years behind bars is a fucking piece of cake or something.

            What is really needed is a national dialogue on prisons, sentencing, rehabilitation and alternative kinds of punishments. What we're doing now seems to be mindless and inefficient.

            Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

            by The Raven on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:20:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Criminology 101 (0+ / 0-)

              Still have the textbook...

              As a comparison to show you the difference, look at our system vs that of Saudi Arabia for a capital crime.

              In our system, you murder 20 people... your trial takes years... you finally get the death penalty IF you get it... and you sit on death row for another 30 years... and then you STILL might get a governor to grant clemency.

              In Saudi Arabia, your trial is swift... if found guilty you are killed.  

              In 1990 when I was in Saudi, they had 3% crime in their country.  Since then, it has risen as they've tried to be more "lenient" due to those human rights violations things (whole different topic).

              The point is... one system worked as designed under the guidelines... ours doesn't... when it comes to deterrent.

              The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

              by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:28:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ummm, maybe not a good point (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                debedb, I

                Saudi's been known to execute innocent people.

                "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

                by mpwife on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:37:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  That's the Answer (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                debedb

                Let's get some Saudi Justice here!

                When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

                by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:38:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  When you begin to argue that we should be (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                stringer bell, Mia Dolan

                more like a quasi-theocratic monarchy in our approach to freedom, I believe you start asking for problems.

                You can't just say, "Well, let's make our criminal justice system like Saudi Arabia's was in the 1980s, and end it there before we get into the whole business about killing people for marriage infidelity and whatnot."  It's a package deal.  If you make it a priority to kill people for crime as a deterrent to other crime, you significantly change the composition of the country.

                •  I didn't... (0+ / 0-)

                  and when people start reading comments instead of merely picking out words and reacting to them... maybe the discussions could actually be productive.

                  I never argued it should be theirs.  Ever.  Not one word.

                  I pointed out what was required for a system to work and actually be a deterrent.

                  But too many people want to try and jump without actually reading...

                  The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                  by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:48:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I'm sorry for the confusion. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    stringer bell, debedb, Mia Dolan

                    Can you please clarify what you meant to prove with the example of Saudi Arabia?  Because I've read it three times now -- thoroughly -- and it really seems to me like you're suggesting crime would go down if we would not waste so much time determining innocence or guilt.

                    •  I'll join in that request n/t (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      debedb, I

                      When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

                      by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:59:53 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  to try and clarify... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      I

                      Raven's comment regarding prison state, rehabilition, etc, is what led me to point out what makes a system actually work.

                      Rehabilitation was tried.  It failed.  The majority of crime is committed by repeat offenders.  

                      The 3 things that make a justice system a deterrent to those offenders is being swift, certain and severe.  As I state, our system has none of them.  There is no deterrent in our system to make people go "gee, do I want to go kill someone or not", because many states don't have the death penalty, and even those that do it doesn't deter because the person knows they will sit on death row for 20-30 years.

                      That led to "why does it have to be severe".  Because if it isn't severe, again, what is the deterrent?  My response was that I got the "severe" from the course I took, Criminology, and not just pulling it off the top of my head.

                      I then contrasted our system to the most severe I knew of; Saudi.

                      The point being, in our system, you kill someone and you MIGHT (not even DEFINITELY, but MIGHT) be executed in 30 years for your crime.  In Saudi, you WERE executed... period... and usually within a very short time (as short as a week after your conviction).  THAT is severe, and a very extreme example.  However, in 1990, they only had a 3% crime rate because their system was so severe.  Their crime rate is soaring as they changed their system.  

                      It is a point of illustration; severe deters, and ours isn't.

                      WOULD ours go down if we were that severe? yes. But I am not ADVOCATING that... merely illustrating why severe works... and ours doesn't.

                      Mandatory sentencing is not going to stop all our crime either, but, it will stop SOME because then they would go "ok, I'm not getting probation, maybe I don't want to do this".  It is a matter of degree of severity...

                      A one year prison sentence is more severe then probation... it becomes MORE of a deterrent, though not as large as, say, cutting off peoples hands or heads.

                      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 02:31:33 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Thanks for the reply. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mpwife

                        I see the point you're trying to make now.

                        I agree that something should be done to increase deterrence of crime; clearly, something is not working in our system.  (Stronger social programs might be a better answer; but, granted, that's not the issue we're discussing right now.)

                        I'm not convinced that, if 50 years in prison does NOT act as a deterrent, that a swift death sentence will; though, as you point out, criminologists might disagree with me.  But let me just concede that point and agree that very swift and severe sentencing will lead to a significant drop in crime.

                        My larger concern, as I alluded to earlier, is what this implies for us as a society.  Right now, to borrow a phrase from George Orwell, our criminal justice system operates under the assumption that "you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs."  Increasing the speed and severity of punishment might change that assumption to, "you can't break a few eggs without making an omelet."

                        In other words, the approach you advocate emphasizes order over justice.  Sure, you would have us strive for both; who wouldn't?  But as it is now, I'd say we fall on the justice side of the continuum.  You seem to be advocating we move further towards the order side of the continuum.

                        I can't explain exactly why, but I don't like that.  I hate to use trite phrases like "it's un-American," because you really can't argue such an assertion; nevertheless, it seems un-American to me.

                        But I do appreciate your diary.  I may yet find more agreement with you, though not at the moment.  Nevertheless, I always like to see dissenting voices here.

                      •  Also -- (0+ / 0-)

                        when you think about mandatory sentencing, I ask you to think about this story.

                        I realize this is not exactly on-point, as you clearly would not advocate something like this, and incidents like the one in this story are not caused by mandatory minimums.  But it is something we have to keep in mind whenever we talk about prison and its deterrent effect.

                        If you think every black kid in the hood doesn't know what happens to people in prison, call a black boy a "punk" sometime.  I dare you.  But be ready for a fight.

              •  Is Prison a Deterrent? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                debedb, Mia Dolan

                There's room for another hundred comments on that subject alone.

                Anyway, I was comparing our system to that of two other advanced countries similar to ours in terms of population density and relative wealth. And you bring up sharia'h law?

                Hey - I know you're taking some knocks in these comments and maybe you're starting to feel a tad beleaguered, but hauling out Saudi Arabia is close to pulling a Godwin.

                Since you bring it up, though, H.L. Mencken wrote a series on crime and punishment, and he thoroughly agrees: punishment should be very swift - while the crime is still fresh in the felon's mind.

                He also advocated flogging. Seriously - he thought that instead of sticking someone in a cage for a decade, you could just lash them in public a few dozen times and the criminal and the public both experience an immediate catharsis and we can all go back to our business.

                How about that? If you could choose your sentence, and were presented with a) 10 years in supermax, or b) 25 lashes with a rattan cane, Singapore-style, which would you choose?

                Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

                by The Raven on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:53:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I was about to say (0+ / 0-)

                  caning is still a punishment in some countries... lol.

                  But, to take the specific points:

                  Is prison a deterrent?  Some are... some aren't.  Few people in Turkey want to ever be in a Turkish prison.  Are American prisons a deterrent?  I don't believe (personally) they are... televisions, gyms, etc, but that is my opinion.

                  And I brought up Saudi because that is the most extreme case I know of (yes, different sets of laws totally), to illustrate the point of swift, certain and severe.

                  Do I believe the public floggings would be more of a deterrent then prison?  Probably.  But I haven't been able to go research the crime rates of Singapore vs ours, etc, etc... so it may not be.

                  The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                  by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 02:14:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  You're kidding, right? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mia Dolan

                Saudi fucking Arabia is a model now?

                Stalin was tough on crime too.

        •  Who says (0+ / 0-)

          that mandatory minimum couldn't include probation and community service?  It's an assumption that when you put in mandatory minimums, it's automatic jail time.  However, the more serious the offense, the more serious the minimum sentence is.  

          Given Ravanells family background, think that even though a jury of his peers is going to find him guilty on possession of 500 grams of coke, he's actually going to see jail time.  This is where human discretion can have it's downfalls.

          "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

          by mpwife on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:25:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You raise interesting points (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosbo, Stampy51, Pozzo, The Raven, esquimaux

    The point I would like to raise is this:  if the laws themselves are unjust (criminalization of possession of marijuana, for example), does a mandatory minimum sentence make any sense at all?

    The whole system of mandatory minimum sentences should, at minimum, be subject to extreme revision.  Even a one-month sentence can be a ticket to a lifetime of reduced employability, loss of voting rights, etc.

    As for white-collar crime - yeah, they ought to be punished more severly, in many cases.  There are a lot fewer excuses for those who are supposedly well-educated, and able to buy top-flight legal services.

  •  cocaine v crack, mandatory minumum (7+ / 0-)

    What is the crack/powder cocaine disparity?

    Pharmacologically the same drug, crack and powder cocaine are treated very differently within the walls of our justice system. Current policy generates a 100 to 1 penalty ratio for crack-related offenses. For instance, possession of only 5 grams of crack-cocaine yields a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence, however it takes 500 grams of powder cocaine to prompt the same sentence. Moreover, crack-cocaine is the only drug for which the first offense of simple possession can trigger a federal mandatory minimum sentence. Yet "simple possession of any quantity of any other substance by a first time offender - including powder cocaine - is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum of one year in prison." (21 U.S.C. 844)

    link

    hmmm .. who gets busted with crack and who gets busted with cocaine?  just one example of how mandatory minimum provides for institutionalized racism

    •  that is a disparity written into the law (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace

      I agree, it needs to be changed... or, the crack users need to use cocaine so they can both be equal drug users...

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:32:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  unjust laws are everywhere (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jxg, Pozzo, The Raven, esquimaux

        that's a problem.  manadatory minumums exacerbate this problem by removing the common sense of a decent judge.

        •  judges are now nothing more then political (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          penguins4peace

          appointees.  

          We need only see what is going in SCOTUS right now to know that the judges are looking out for the rich and the poor are getting screwed.

          Corporations are getting away with murder... and giving judges the open-ended leeway, where it once worked, is now a broken system.

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:46:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But i get to vote for my Judges (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            I

            besides, at some point we need to trust the political system to handle many things becasue we the people can not do it all.  

            "For me, walking into a nice Jewish deli IS a religious experience." -my mom

            by ETinKC on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:56:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Wow (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pozzo, kingubu, The Raven, esquimaux

    What an astonishingly ignorant diary.

    Lets take Stewart and Quattrone. Stewart lied to investigators looking into her sale of her own stock worth something like $40,000.  Quattrone ordered the deletion of company emails in a case involving hundreds of millions of dollars of other people's money.  They may have been convicted of the same crimes, but their cases were almost nothing alike.  

    When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

    by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:33:01 PM PDT

    •  wow... (0+ / 0-)

      what an astonishing ignorant comment.

      The rich celebrity got a slap, while someone else got a harsher sentence.

      Or maybe you think Paris Hilton should have been allowed to stay in her mansion while the poor person who isn't a celebrity sits behind bars.

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:38:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The tone was a little harsh, but... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mia Dolan

        I think Mia has a point about the difference in their alleged crimes.  Martha Stewart is no innocent naif, but she wasn't a licensed securities dealer either.  Both may have "obstructed justice," but then one could say that a mosquito and a rabid dog both bite.

        No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

        by Gator Keyfitz on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:42:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  then make the point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          penguins4peace

          and leave the bullshit at the door.  It was uncalled for...

          Agree, disagree, don't read it, don't comment... but put out BS like that? pfft...

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:44:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

            I think you were the one who brought the bullshit.  I just called you on it.  Your comparative analysis of the Stewart and Quattrone situations was

            same crime

            when that is not even remotely true.  When your arguments are built upon ignorance of the facts, its valid to point that out.  

            When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

            by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:50:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It is exactly true. (0+ / 0-)

              The crimes were the same.  The circumstances surrounding them were different.

              It is the folly of youth to think they can change the world; it is the folly of old age not to try. -- Winston Churchill

              by penguins4peace on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:51:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The charges were the same (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                esquimaux, inertiac

                but the crimes were very different.  Whatever the facts of the crime may be, you have to fit them into a criminal statute to charge someone.  That is why discretion in sentencing is important and why mandatory minimums are completely idiotic and unjust.    

                When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

                by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:56:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  so... (0+ / 0-)

              a kid caught with 100 grams of cocaine at a party is different then a cartel mule being caught with 100 grams of cocaine... right?  Different circumstances even if they are being charged with the exact same offense.

              You are arguing, as pointed out, circumstance... not crime or charge.

              And when you figure that out... well... I'll probably be dead before you do.

              The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

              by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:17:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                inertiac

                First, let me say that I don't think that anyone should be subjected to criminal penalties for possessing 100 grams of cocaine.

                I also don't think that your example involves the same crime (and possibly not even the same charges).  A kid using and a mule selling do not have the same mens rea.  And are you arguing that circumstances don't matter?   That a user (or an addict) should be treated the same as someone who is profiting by the sale of the cocaine?  

                There needs to be discretion, including discretion based solely on circumstances (when the "crime" and the charges are the same).  Mandatory minimums get in the way of that, and get in the way of justice.  

                When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

                by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:33:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Story of my life (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gator Keyfitz, I

          The tone was a little harsh, but... I think Mia has a point

          When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

          by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:07:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  LOL (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        esquimaux

        The rich celebrity got five months for something completely insignificant, while the guy involved in something much more serious, and which impacted many more people, got a slightly longer sentence.  Most people in Stewart's case would not have even been charged - she got five months because she's a celebrity.  The sentences were out of whack, but not the way you think.

        Not that I feel sorry for Paris Hilton, but again, she got more time because she's a celebrity.  A poor (non-celebrity) person would have been let out of jail after five days because of the overcrowding, just as Paris Hilton initially was.  She only served the full sentence BECAUSE she is a celebrity.  

        When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

        by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:46:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You're being very unfair (0+ / 0-)

      to the diarist with your "astonishingly ignorant" comment.

      The substance of his diary was not about Stewart and Quattrone; they were examples of what he argues reasonably is an injustice.  Regardless of what the "underlying crime" was (indeed, there needn't be any), both were sentenced for exactly the same offense and neither had a prior record, yet their sentences were markedly different.  Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done, and sentencing disparities look unjust.

      I do not like mandatory minimum sentences.  I would argue that the degree of injustice resulting from so many poor and powerless defendants being sentenced to absurd terms is greater than that of the occasional celebrity being coddled.  

      Of course, many offenses already carry mandatory minimums and we don't think that unjust, e.g., DUI.  As one commented has mentioned here, the problem is more with the length of the minimum, and the offenses to which they apply, which tend to discriminate against the powerless.

      We appoint judges because we believe they are persons of excellent judgment, and we should allow them to exercise that judgment in sentencing.

      It is the folly of youth to think they can change the world; it is the folly of old age not to try. -- Winston Churchill

      by penguins4peace on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:47:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        penguins4peace, esquimaux

        There was injustice in the Stewart and Quattrone situations.  Stewart got far more than she deserved and Quattrone got far less.  Mandatory minimums would have made things even more unjust.  

        When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

        by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:52:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know (0+ / 0-)

          whether Stewart's or Quattrone's sentence was too severe or too lenient.  I did not sit in judgment of the case and did not have the opportunity to hear the arguments of counsel or review the presentence report in either case.  One can't determine the propriety of a sentence from newspaper accounts, I think we can agree on that.

          As I said I don't like mandatory minimums either.  And I don't think a mandatory minimum would make much sense for a crime such as lying to the FBI where the results of that crime can run from trivial to frustration of the investigation of an infamous crime (viz. Libbey).

          It is the folly of youth to think they can change the world; it is the folly of old age not to try. -- Winston Churchill

          by penguins4peace on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:00:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I followed Stewart's case pretty closely (0+ / 0-)

            Basically, she went to jail for being a bitch.  

            When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

            by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:05:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  She got off easy (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              esquimaux, Mia Dolan, I

              you know how many times I have been made to feel inadequate because my center piece was not hand made from stuff grown in my garden using organic soil.  They should have given her the chair damn it.

              "For me, walking into a nice Jewish deli IS a religious experience." -my mom

              by ETinKC on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:07:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I think of mandatory minimums, and... (0+ / 0-)

    what comes up is the fact that mandatory minimums for crack are much stiffer than mandatory minimums for coke; and three-strikes-you're-out laws, which lump together domestic abusers and similarly dangerous people along with people who get caught urinating behind a bush or shoplifters.

    Yeah, they're all crimes. But they're not crimes of equal severity. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws make no sense whatsoever unless they are proportional to the seriousness of the crime. You could lump together all capital crimes, all non-capital violent crimes, all property crimes of $20,000 or more, all property crimes of $200 to $20,000, all property crimes of $200 or less, all drugs crimes, all misdemeanors, and so on, all in separate sentencing bins.

    But it doesn't make sense to have cross-over. How are we served by locking up tweakers and public urinators, if they haven't committed other crimes?

    Socialism: Aspirin for your social-welfare headaches. (Use in moderation.)

    by Shaviv on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:34:14 PM PDT

    •  misdemeanor vs felony (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace

      I make that distinction in the diary

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:48:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah you have, thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stringer bell

        I think MMS is a total non-starter, though, unless it's rationalized. (e.g., crack possession isn't in any way treated the same as, say, armed robbery.)

        I kind of would prefer to see the difference in MMS between crack and powdered coke disappear. But this may or may not be the diary for that kind of discussion. :3

        Socialism: Aspirin for your social-welfare headaches. (Use in moderation.)

        by Shaviv on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:54:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the minimums would have to ordered, no doubt (0+ / 0-)

          As I point out it the diary.

          5 years for cocaine, 40 years for espionage, etc.

          Yes, the crimes would have to be ranked on "severity", etc... and the MMS stepped to meet that.

          But, we are talking major crimes here, not jaywalking.

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:20:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Here's why it doesn't work (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stampy51, Gator Keyfitz, kingubu, I

    This will do NOTHING to level the playing field between those who can afford good lawyers and those who can't.  The poor, by definition, can't afford lawyers. They either go it alone, pro se or have to rely on a public defender or public interest lawyer, who is likely to have a huge caseload, and insufficient funding to investigate the facts and prepare a defense. They tend to want to walk their client througha plea bargain. A rich person or even one of modest means who can borrow money, can get a lawyer who will fight, demand pre trial discovery, pre trial hearings, make motions to dismiss and if all else fails, negotiate a better deal. The poor person pleads guilty to a felony and gets  a higher mandatory minimum, let's say 5 fives. The richer person please guilty to a lesser grade felony and gets a mantory minimum of 18 months. It's still not equal.

    •  I'll agree that with plea bargaining, it still (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace

      leaves the door open.

      But, either we leave the system as it is, and that means the poor, who are getting screwed NOW, continue to get screwed and the rich, who are getting off NOW, continue as is.

      If we have to change the laws to mandatory minimums and beef up the pro bono system... I'm all for that too.

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:42:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why make them mandatory? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stampy51, The Raven, Mia Dolan, I

    Why not just have sentencing guidelines and make the judges explain why they go outside the guidelines if they do.

    look at the case of the kid who was caught on tape getting a blow job from a willing participant - he go the same as a 36 year old raping a teen.  So those should be different laws right.  Okay, what about a forced versus unforced sex?  What about an 17 and 18 year old versus a 16 and 40 year old...still need different laws?  Oral sex versus penetration.  Drunk versus sober.  New she was underage didn't know.  How many laws do you want on the books to handle all of the various scenarios that could arise such that any type of Mandatory sentence is fair - or you can just leave it up the judges.

    Man, i think of how pissed I get when microsoft word won't let me put two capitol letters in a word like KWh and keeps auto correcting, just imagine getting 10 years because your buddy left a joint in your car.

    "For me, walking into a nice Jewish deli IS a religious experience." -my mom

    by ETinKC on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:53:29 PM PDT

    •  That's what I mean (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stampy51, esquimaux

      just imagine getting 10 years because your buddy left a joint in your car.

      This is what I'm getting at in my comment above wherein I accuse the diarist of using insufficient imagination. Yes - imagine getting a mandatory minimum for something like that.

      Or, to take a case here in Florida, two guys this week got life for murder one. What happened is that this gang of three dudes robbed a store or were leaving the scene of a burglary, something like that. And the cops roll up and are yelling at 'em and at some point they open fire, killing one of the bad guys.

      Because a death resulted "during the commission of a crime," both surviving crooks got life for the murder. And I keep thinking about this, and I'm seeing a kind of "mandatory minimum" at work here. These laws have weird effects and are probably causing more harm than good.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

      by The Raven on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:14:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  they have sentencing guidelines now (0+ / 0-)

      they are written into the laws.  

      As for that kid, his case shouldn't even have gotten to court if the prosecutor had done their job in my opinion.

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:23:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you limit a judge's options, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, Mia Dolan

    you limit justice. Period.  Let a judge judge.

    •  Justice isn't "options"... (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:
      debedb

      Justice is a fair trial, due process, being able to confront accuser and see evidence, so that if you are convicted because the evidence against you is beyond a reasonable doubt... you are sentenced for your crime.

      Justice is about the guilty paying for their transgression against the public or another so that the victim gets justice.

      Our society has forgotten the victims and now thinks the criminal should have all the rights in the world... now... to include not even having to pay for their crime.

      That isn't justice... once you get to sentencing... it is the victim's turn for Justice...

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:33:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that is wack (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stringer bell, Mia Dolan, inertiac

        Justice is about the guilty paying for their transgression against the public or another so that the victim gets justice.

        Our society has forgotten the victims and now thinks the criminal should have all the rights in the world... now... to include not even having to pay for their crime.

        That isn't justice... once you get to sentencing... it is the victim's turn for Justice...

        That is absolutely not true, and it is unfortunate that you think it is.  Criminal justice is about keeping people safe, and either checking or correcting the behavior of those who would make it unsafe.  It is not about revenge for the victim.

        •  Criminal justice is a profession... (0+ / 0-)

          there are many cops who do serve and protect.  Many are good ones at it.

          "justice" as a concept is about fairness... for the accused (notice ACCUSED, NOT CONVICTED) during the process... and for society as a whole... and for the victim.

          Once a person is convicted... they're justice has already occurred... fair trial, etc, etc,... it isn't "revenge"... it is the balance of the scales... the accused had justice in the process, and society has their redress for the crime committed against it.

          But there is a difference between profession and concept/ideal.

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:59:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  So as a victim of rape (0+ / 0-)

          When the laws aren't a deterrent, I don't have any recourse?  Where's the justice for the victims if the laws established fail to keep the public safe?

          "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

          by mpwife on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 02:54:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  ok I think we're done here (1+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Mia Dolan
        Hidden by:
        MotleyPatriot

        Our society has forgotten the victims and now thinks the criminal should have all the rights in the world...

        TR for the use of a rabid wingnut talking point.

        •  TR for rating abuse... n/t (0+ / 0-)

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 03:38:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  whatever (0+ / 0-)

            I consider this red herring of 'rights for criminals' to be a trollish discourse, 'terrrists deserve no rights' bullshit. I am past giving a pass to this fascist crap.

            •  and after spending 6 years in law enforcement (0+ / 0-)

              watching it occur in our courts I can flat tell for a fact that the victims have been left behind when it comes to rights.

              I have absolutely zero problem with a person who is accused of a crime having their rights under our constitution... I spent 10 years active duty to protect those rights.

              I have 100% problem with a person who is convicted of a crime getting off in sentencing with community service or probation because they were "just a nice kid who never ever did anything wrong (that they ever got caught for)" while the victim watches the system break down.

              You want talk about injustice, be part of a rape trial where the victim is all but demonized by the lawyers, the media, and IF... IF... they are able to handle it and get a conviction, the look on their face when their attacker is given probation and not hard jail time.

              "Right wing talking points" are the flavor of the week...

              Injustice, however, is real... and I've seen it.

              The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

              by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 04:17:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  abuse my ass (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mia Dolan

            "criminal should have all the rights in the world" is a straw man. If this is your level of discourse, you either need more education than your 'criminology' course, or you are disingenuous.  

          •  Wrong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            debedb

            Your retaliatory troll rating is the only ratings abuse here.  You earned your donut.  

            When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

            by Mia Dolan on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 06:51:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually from the FAQs (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              debedb, Mia Dolan, Ken in Tex

              Conversely, there is one particular reason troll ratings should never be used: to express disagreement with a poster's opinion. If you disagree, you can say so, but so long as the commentor is stating their opinion civilly, merely disagreeing with your own opinion does not constitute being a "troll". This is true of gun control; Nader fights; Hillary vs. Not Hillary; DLC vs. Not DLC; energy policy; Senate strategy; House strategy; campaign strategy. Merely having a different opinion and stating it differently from how you would like does not constitute "trolling". Having honest and frequently passionate discussions of the issues is an imperative, if we are to obtain a progressive movement marked with actual successes

              .

              And yes, a retaliatory troll rating is abuse.

              "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

              by mpwife on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 11:12:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So they're both in the wrong. n/t (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                debedb, Ken in Tex

                "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

                by mpwife on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 11:12:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Well (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mpwife

                The troll rating was not given because of mere disagreement.  It was given because the commenter made a dishonest argument using Republican talking points.  A civil argument is not limited to just not telling someone to fuck off.  It was a close call (I didn't troll rate the comment) but well within the discretion of rater.  

                When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

                by Mia Dolan on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 11:55:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Kind of interesting though. (0+ / 0-)

                  Is it really a Republican talking point or another stance of an issue.  He commented based on his experience as a cop.  It's his opinion.  The FAQ stated

                  This is true of gun control; Nader fights; Hillary vs. Not Hillary; DLC vs. Not DLC; energy policy; Senate strategy; House strategy; campaign strategy

                  Any argument against gun control for instance can be construed as a Republican talking point.  Grant it, the repubs are pushing the tough on law.  However, there must be some merit to the victims not having rights statement, because it was the Dems that led for tougher stalking and CDV laws, as well as the Victims Bill of Rights.  It's not a talking point, just another side of an issue.  

                  "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

                  by mpwife on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 12:06:03 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

                    Again, the problem is not with the position, its with the justification given.

                    Our society now thinks the criminal should have all the rights in the world

                    Beyond lame.  

                    When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

                    by Mia Dolan on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 12:27:40 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That's your opinion, lame maybe yes (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Mia Dolan

                      but not troll worthy.  It wasn't meant to disrupt, hijack etc (like we're kind of doing to this diary).

                      Regardless, I honestly don't think either one really care about whether they've received the trs.  And the diary is basically history anyway, so no need to continue.  LOL.

                      "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

                      by mpwife on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 12:37:48 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Actually many victims (0+ / 0-)

          feel let down from the justice system.  Why do you think so many rapes go unreported?  How many people have gotten off on a technicality or have been able to plead to a lesser sentence.  What about the mob hitmen who turned government informants who got witness relocation because they ratted out the bigger fish, never to be charged for the murders of the individuals.

          You can call them right wing talking points, but then you just classify every victim who's been let down by the judicial system as a wingnut.

          "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

          by mpwife on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 03:50:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  sorry, they are (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mia Dolan

            'criminals should have all the rights in the world' is a typical misleading red herring, designed to completely obscure the point of due process, etc. (In fact, I am being charitable -- it's authoritarian bullshit.) I don't want to go there. If you want to follow the likes of Giuliani et al, fine. You have done nothing wrong and have nothing to fear, right?

            •  Okay let me throw this to you (0+ / 0-)

              You may think they're talking points.  Ever been a victim of a violent crime?  Ever talk to a rape victim who had to go through the trial process?

              "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

              by mpwife on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 04:25:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Due process is fine (0+ / 0-)

              and no one is denying the rights of the accused to have that due process, unless, it's Giuliani.  But there was a reason that victims rights laws had to come about.  

              But it's still bs to classify someone as a repub because they disagree with you, of course, it's your right to call it a wingnut statement.  

              "A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place." Michelle Le Doeuff

              by mpwife on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 04:36:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Motley (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mia Dolan, MotleyPatriot

    I see what you're getting at, and I think that most of the comments in this thread either misinterpret what you say or misread it outright.

    However, I don't think that mandatory minimums really solve the problem you cite, which is real.  Even with strict sentencing guidelines in place, the rich will still be able to weasel their way out of being held accountable, as there is considerable flexibility in terms of plea agreements and indeed what charges are even filed, and a defendant's wealth/social standing can have a large effect on those.

    Moreover, we need to give judges leeway on sentencing to allow justice to work on a case by case basis, which is the only just way to do it.  Otherwise, judges are constrained by reactionary legislatures, most of whom act on behalf of the wealthy and influential.  

    Rather, we need to get better judges, and provide better legal aid to defendants.  That's how we should approach this problem.

    •  I don't think we are going to "fix" it... (0+ / 0-)

      not totally, anyway.  There is too much wrong in too many places.

      I have no problem with trying to fix pro bono, and getting political hack judges out of the system... but I don't see the latter ever happening... so, all we can do is take away some of their leeway so they can't let the rich walk every time.

      The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

      by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:36:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mia Dolan, inertiac

        Like I said, there is still leeway in terms of who gets charged with what.  And there's no legislative way to remedy that "problem."  So all you've accomplished with a mandatory minimum is to make it even harder for a judge to show clemency in cases where it is merited.

        •  if the prosecutors and cops were doing their job (0+ / 0-)

          the judges wouldn't have to show clemency during sentencing.

          Like I said... too many problems in too many areas.

          This one is addressing the judges and their attitude that the rich don't need to be in jail.

          The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

          by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:46:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, but that's silly (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            debedb, Mia Dolan, inertiac

            The justice system is adversarial.  The prosecutors are there to prosecute, the cops are there to make the case.  The defense is there to get the defendant off.  The judge is there to make sure everyone plays by the rules, and to impose a sentence that fits the specific crime.  It works because everyone has a specific, limited role, and everyone is concerned with that particular crime.

            A legislature cannot predict the intricate ethical and moral issues that arise during a trial--every case is different.  The function of the judiciary is to give life to the law, and thoughtfully, not merely to be a mouthpiece for the legislature.

            •  and having an MMS doesn't detract from that (0+ / 0-)

              process in any way shape or form.

              It does, however, try to ensure that everyone who is found guilty in that process is sentenced in a way that brings some fairness to the system.

              In a perfect system, the cops would arrest based on the law and have evidence to produce at trial; the prosecutors would try the case and present that evidence; the defense would either win or lose based on the merits of the case and evidence; the jury would convict or acquit based on the evidence; and the judge would impose a sentence that befits the crime.

              It is not a perfect system.  Most cops are doing their jobs, but we still have people arrested who shouldn't be.  Most prosecutors do their job, but some cases shouldn't even have been at trial (see the Duke lacrosse case).  But now, most judges IMO aren't doing their jobs... their leeway opened the door to slam the poor and minorities while protecting the rich and white.

              Because of this... juries are starting to become, not a question of guilt or innocence based on the facts and evidence... but "moral judgement calls" of "do I really want to do this to this person".

              Libby was guilty.  The juror stood on camera going "yeah, we found him guilty, but hated to do it"... and if that same jury found him not guilty regardless of the facts, evidence, and instead said, "well, we just didn't want to convict", is that serving our system?  Because that is what it has gotten to.

              The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

              by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 02:08:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  WTF? (0+ / 0-)

                But now, most judges IMO aren't doing their jobs... their leeway opened the door to slam the poor and minorities while protecting the rich and white.

                What exactly is that based on?  Republican talking points?  And the manditory sentencing takes away the leeway and absolutely screws the poor and minorities.

                Because of this... juries are starting to become, not a question of guilt or innocence based on the facts and evidence... but "moral judgement calls" of "do I really want to do this to this person".

                 Um, juries have been doing that for a long time.  Why exactly do you think that this is new?  Its interesting to note than in the example you give, even though the jury felt bad for Libby, THEY STILL APPLIED THE LAW AND CONVICTED HIM.  

                When asked if someone put a gun to his head and told him to vote for either Gore or Bush, which he would choose, Nader answered without hesitation: "Bush"

                by Mia Dolan on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 02:31:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  why don't you try READING the diary... (0+ / 0-)

                  And yes, that is exactly what happens now.  When I was in law enforcement, I was in court the day a judge made the comment, in court, that because a man paid $5,000 to retain a lawyer to defend himself against a DUI charge, that was "punishment enough" for him.  The poor people who couldn't afford a lawyer, well, they got "other" punishment; like fines and jail and license suspension.

                  Because I've BEEN in court.. Because I have WITNESSED IT firsthand.

                  I'm done responding to you... you can't even f'ng read...

                  The "rule of law"; it applies to you and me, but not the rich, the Republican or the celebrity. Welcome to America!

                  by MotleyPatriot on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 02:37:33 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Before there were mandatory minimum sentences, (0+ / 0-)

    there was a huge disparity between sentences handed down for the same crime, even within the same federal district (we're talking federal law here). The disparities were even greater between districts in some southern states and some northeastern and west-coast states. There was no uniformity. Someone receiving a two year sentence in California for a drug conviction could get 25 years in Texas. I think most people here are old enough to remember the stories about people getting 20 years for possession of pot in places like Texas and Alabama.

    Iirc, the Sentencing Commission wound up simply compromising between the severe sentences handed down in the conservative states and the relatively lighter ones dispensed in the 'liberal' states. There was no attempt to rationalize the sentences, and with the Republicans owning the WH (Reagan era), nobody was going to propose making drug sentencing rational. And that is the core of the problem.

    Mandatory minimums would make sense if the disproportionately severe sentences for drug possession and trafficking were rationalized. Some should be legal, some discouraged, but, imho, no drug crime rises to the level of seriousness of other crimes like murder, rape, robbery, burglary, assault, or financial crimes against seniors and other vulnerable people. Drug offenses should be punished through financial penalties and community service (like helping people addicted to drugs). It's not the mandatory minimums, it's the absolute lunacy of the War On Drugs.

    -6.38/-3.79::'A man is incapable of comprehending any argument that interferes with his revenues.' Descartes

    by skrymir on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 02:30:49 PM PDT

  •  Empty the Jails and Prisons - (0+ / 0-)

    Reduce the prison population by 90%!

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