Skip to main content

The case of Shaneen Allen has been getting attention in the libertarian and gun rights communities, but honestly deserves more publicity from everyone who cares about overprosecution, mandatory minimums, and the prison industrial complex.

Via The Watch, Ms. Allen is a lawful handgun owner in Pennsylvania. She was pulled over on a traffic stop in New Jersey, a state with some of the nation's toughest gun laws. She volunteered to the police officer that she had a handgun in her possession, apparently not knowing that possession of a handgun without a licence for that state is a felony in New Jersey.

Allen is a black single mother. She has two kids. She has no prior criminal record. Before her arrest, she worked as a phlebobotomist. After she was robbed two times in the span of about a year, she purchased the gun to protect herself and her family. There is zero evidence that Allen intended to use the gun for any other purpose. Yet Allen was arrested. She spent 40 days in jail before she was released on bail. She’s now facing a felony charge that, if convicted, would bring a three-year mandatory minimum prison term.
Under the law, she really doesn't have much of a defense. But according to her attorney, the prosecutor has the option of allowing her to enter a diversion program for first time offenders of victimless crimes, but has not explained why he is unwilling to do so in this case.

Mandatory minimum sentencing laws remove all judicial discretion from cases where a reasonable judge could actually use a thing called "judgement". These laws are getting plenty of attention these days in the context of the drug war. The Shaneen Allen case also looks like a situation where prosecutorial discretion could have avoided an unnecessarily harsh charge.

And mandatory minimums are a significant contributor to the US's coveted status as most incarcerated nation on earth.

Everyone loved the piece John Oliver did on the prison industrial complex.  Whatever your thoughts on gun control legislation, ridiculous laws like this should be part of the discussion of why mandatory minimums sentencing often has such terrible outcomes.

Originally posted to davematson on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Liberal G Club.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site