Sensenbrenner Proposes More Mandatory Minimums

by TChris

Bad laws often seek cover in "feel good" names. So it is with Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2004 (Bill No. HR 4547). Masquerading as a law that champions drug treatment while protecting children, the bill is just another attempt to shift power from judges and the federal sentencing commission to federal prosecutors while implementing even harsher mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes: this time, for the distribution of drugs (including marijuana) to minors.

From an email describing the law:

For example, it would make the sale of any quantity of any controlled substance (including marijuana) by a person older than 21 to a person younger than 18 subject to a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence. The punishment for a second offense of underage marijuana distribution would be mandatory life imprisonment.

It creates new mandatory life sentences without possibility of release for a
variety of drug crimes, including virtually any federal drug conviction
following two prior felony drug convictions (including prior state felonies). It directly repeals most of the few guidelines provisions that the Commission has managed to pass over the last few years ameliorating the severity of federal drug laws for first-time and low-level offenders (including, for those who follow such things, the minor role cap).

This bill is the brainchild of Jim Sensenbrenner, who controls the House Judiciary Committee. Sensenbrenner worked hard for the passage of the Feeney Amendment, and he's likely to do everything he can to jam this one down the throats of Representatives with the expectation that they won't want to seem soft on drugs (or unsympathetic to children) in an election year.

Please tell your Congressman: Just Say No to Mandatory Minimums.

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