Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Another Ass in Congress? - or - Here Come More Mandatory Minimums

In an earlier post titled Drug Points to Start Carding Customers? we stated
More Mandatory Minimums? Even before Blakely was decided, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced a bill that would increase from one year to 10 the mandatory minimum sentence for anyone 21 or older who sells any amount of a controlled substance (even a single joint) to someone under 18. A second offense of this sort would trigger a mandatory life sentence.
For some time all was quiet on the frontlines regarding this bill. But it now appears, as reported here that "Despite growing opposition to long mandatory minimum prison terms, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will consider imposing new, even more draconian mandatory minimums on nonviolent drug offenders on Thursday, Sept. 23, in 2141 Rayburn HOB at 9:00 a.m." The bill, H.R. 4547, is the same one sponsored by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) we mentioned earlier, "and would provide radical new mandatory minimums for a variety of nonviolent drug offenses. 'This bill would effectively impose a five year mandatory minimum for anyone distributing any amount of a controlled substance in an urban area -- even medical marijuana dispensaries supported by local authorities,' said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. 'A 21-year-old who sells a few joints to his 17-year-old brother would face a mandatory ten years in federal prison for the first offense. Such cruel penalties will help nobody.'" Id.

So Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) joins Rep. Feeney as just another ass and a yahoo in Congress we could do without.

UPDATE: See NACDL's website for information on H.R. 4547 ("Alert! Hep Stop Feeney II"); and FAMM Memorandum on "Changes proposed by H.R. 4547 Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2004."