Federal drug laws develop a labeling problem. When you hear the term "drug trafficker," you may think about Pablo Escobar or Walter White, but the truth is that under federal law, drug traffickers consist of people who purchase pseudo-ephedrine for their methamphetamine dealership; act as intermediary in a series of small deals; and even pick up a travel suitcase for the wrong friend. Thanks to conspiracy laws, everybody on the totem pole can be subject to the very same serious mandatory minimum sentences.
To the men and females who drafted our federal drug laws in 1986, this may come as a surprise. According to Sen. Robert Byrd, cosponsor of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the reason to connect 5- and ten-year mandatory sentences to drug trafficking was to penalize "the kingpins-- the masterminds who are really running these operations", and the mid-level dealerships.
Fast forward twenty-five years. Today, practically everybody founded guilty of a federal drug crime is founded guilty of "drug trafficking", which generally leads to a minimum of a five- or ten-year necessary prison sentence. That's a great deal of time in federal prison for many individuals who are minor parts of drug trade, the large bulk of whom are males and females of color.
This is the system that federal district Judge Mark Bennett sees every day. Judge Bennett sits on the district court in northern Iowa, and he manages a lot of drug cases. "Never ever could I have actually pictured," he writes in a recent piece in The Country, "that ... after nineteen years [as a federal district court judge], I would have sent 1,092 of my fellow citizens to federal prison for compulsory minimum sentences ranging from sixty months to life without the possibility of release. Most of these ladies, males and young adults are nonviolent druggie." What about the kingpins? "I can count them on one hand," he states.
The numbers can't convey the ridiculous tragedy of everything. This is how he describes a recent drug trafficking case:
I recently sentenced a group of more than twenty offenders on meth trafficking conspiracy charges. Eighteen were 'pill smurfers,' as federal district attorneys put it, meaning their function amounted to regularly purchasing and providing cold medicine to meth cookers in exchange for really small, low-grade amounts to feed their serious dependencies. All of them faced mandatory minimum sentences of sixty or 120 months.
They discovered that in 2005, the bulk of the lowest-level drug- and crack-trafficking defendants-- guys and ladies explained as "street-level dealers", "couriers/mules", and "renter/loader/lookout/ enabler/users"-- received five- or ten-year necessary jail sentences. This is especially true for crack-cocaine accused, many of whom are black; regardless of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, selling a small quantity of fracture drug (28 grams) carries the same obligatory minimum sentence-- 5 years-- as offering 500 grams of powder drug.
This is the reality for which advocates of extreme federal drug laws need to account. We must admit that our sentencing of minor individuals in the drug trade to jail terms suggested for the leaders of big drug organizations-- as a common incident, not as an exception.
If prolonged necessary minimum sentences for nonviolent druggie actually worked, one might be able to rationalize them. There is no evidence that they do. I have actually seen how they leave numerous countless young kids parent-less and thousands of aging, infirm and dying parents childless. They ruin households and strongly sustain www.criminallawyerslasvegas.com/drug-conspiracy-defense-las-vegas the cycle of hardship and dependency.
Here, once again, we have evidence that Judge Bennett is right: long mandatory sentences are unnecessary for many drug culprits. In 2002 and 2003, Michigan and New York City rescinded compulsory sentences for drug transgressors and offered judges the power to impose shorter sentences, probation, or drug treatment. The sky didn't fall, but crime rates did. Did jail expenses.
For years, Judge Bennett has actually seen a system that does not make good sense. He has actually seen mandatory laws written for the most serious, large-scale drug dealers applied to the men and women on the lowest rungs of the drug trade, and he has seen it happen a lot. We once pictured that serious obligatory sentences would be used to deal with the leaders of large drug operations. It's time our federal drug laws were fit to the people that they truly target.
If you have been charged with a drug related offense and need qualified representation, contact us to discuss your case.
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