We’re on the right track! SB 68 coming up for floor vote; more on mandatory minimums

Rehnquist quote Wow…the number of articles decrying mandatory minimum sentencing has been heartening indeed. CAP has been working to reform these draconian laws for more than a decade. Now it seems that the political right, the left and middle are finally realizing that what we are doing is actually counterproductive. This post is highlighting some of the recent articles.

We are on the right track, folks. Now we need to get the Hawai`i legislature to understand the issue of mandatory minimums. SB 68 Restoring Judicial Discretion for B & C Felonies is coming up for a floor vote in the House this week. It is crucial that this bill (although it has been seriously weakened by prosecutors and law enforcement) must pass. We need to start using our correctional system for violent individuals and develop smart strategies for the majority of our incarcerated – non-violent drug lawbreakers.

Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the 15th Annual National Action Network ConventionNew York ~ Thursday, April 4, 2013

“…The Department of Justice is determined to continue working alongside Congressional leaders, judges, law enforcement officials, and independent groups – like the American Bar Association – to study the unintended collateral consequences of certain convictions; to address unwarranted sentencing disparities; and – where appropriate – to explore ways to give judges more flexibility in determining certain sentences.   Too many people go to too many prisons for far too long for no good law enforcement reason.   It is time to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about our criminal justice system.   Statutes passed by legislatures that mandate sentences, irrespective of the unique facts of an individual case, too often bear no relation to the conduct at issue, breed disrespect for the system, and are ultimately counterproductive.   It is time to examine our systems and determine what truly works.   We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, to rehabilitate, and to deter – and not simply to warehouse and forget….”

Eric Holder: Some prison terms too long
By JOSH GERSTEIN | 4/5/13 12:12 AM EDT

“Attorney General Eric Holder complained Thursday night that prison sentences for many convicted criminals are too long, especially the mandatory prison terms federal and state governments require judges to impose for certain offenses. …”

PAUL: Minimizing authority of judges
Mandatory sentencing pre-empts individual consideration
“I, like anyone else, whether a member of Congress or a parent, am concerned with the well-being of our children. We all want to keep our families and our communities safe. We want to see violent predators and criminals put behind bars and punished for the harm they do to others and to society.

Judges will tell you that current federal sentencing laws — known as mandatory minimums — don’t actually do anything to keep us safer. In fact, judges will tell you that mandatory minimums do much harm to taxpayers and to individuals, who may have their lives ruined for a simple mistake or minor lapse of judgment. …”


Time for Sentencing Reform
by George Gascón, Prison Legal News, April 2013 – pages 54-55

“From the Capitol to the courtrooms, prosecutors can chart a new path on public safety by championing at both local and state levels one of the biggest ways we can transform our justice system in this generation – sentencing reform.
So further change is needed. Sentencing reform is one of the most important ways we can reduce recidivism and keep our communities safe. We can use two innovative strategies – sentencing commissions and alternative sentencing practices – to achieve our goals. Most criminal law is developed legislatively through the political process, with mandatory minimum sentences and sentence enhancement laws changing every year. Often, this process is influenced by political reactions to high-profile cases or attempts to be “tough on crime.”…”

Mahalo for caring about justice. It takes EVERY VOICE to create safe, healthy, and just communities. Please pump up the volume – raise your voice for justice – our legislators need to hear you.


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