Sensenbrenner Calls For More Mandatory Sentencing Laws
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), current Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, has always struck me as a public menace. He's now advocating more mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Other Republicans are joining him.
If you don't remember Sensenbrenner from 2004- 2005, when he was Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, here are some of his dooziest proposals:[More...]
- Five Years for Passing a Joint to someone who's recently been in rehab or who is under 21 (10 years for passing a joint to someone under 18 -- a 21 year old first time offender who gives some pot to his 17 year old brother would get 10 years.) Five years for giving pot to someone in an urban area (100 feet of library, park, video arcade, public or private daycare, drug treatment center.) The bill was the "Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act" (H.R. 1528) in 2004, re-introduced as H.R. 4547 in 2005.
Sensenbrenner wanted mandatory five-year terms for the sale or distribution (which includes delivery without remuneration) of every illegal drug, no matter how small the amount or the penalty under state law. It also included the infamous Snitch or Go to Jail provisions:
The bill provides for a two year jail sentence if you observe or come across information about drug distribution near colleges and do not report it to authorities within 24 hours and provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting those involved.The bill created mandatory five and ten year prison terms for using drugs in front of children. (Dad watches Mom smoke marijuana in their living room, they both head to prison, and Junior goes to foster care.)
- Sensenbrenner's Border Protection Bill, which Bernie Sanders aptly described at the time saying:
'This Bill is so ridiculous that, according to the Republicans, Santa Claus himself would be a criminal for trekking from the North Pole to deliver holiday gifts without a visa.The bill included an expanded definition of an aggravated felony, required mandatory detention for all immigrants detained at ports of entry or along international borders, limited legal rights and due process for those charged with immigration violations, and made undocumented immigration status a crime.
Sen. Barbara Boxer said of the border bill: "It's anti-faith based. It's inhumane. Sensenbrenner is inhumane."
Sensenbrenner was just as bad in 2003, when he and Sen. Hatch pushed a horrid sentencing bill to restrict judicial discretion in sentencing. Then, like now, Sensenbrenner wanted to take sentencing discretion from judges and eliminate almost every departure except for cooperation.
On other issues: Sensenbrenner was one of the few Congresspersons who voted against relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina. And remember when he cut off the mikes of Democrats during a hearing on the Patriot Act because they brought up detainee treatment at Guantanamo? He has also been ethically-impaired. When he didn't get his way legislatively, he attempted to interfere in judicial decisions, prompting a state investigation into his conduct.
Sensenbrenner's antics have even made the news in Australia, prompting one writer to opine that his 2004 sentencing bill was "pious extremism" which "represents the point where the war on drugs has lost its mind."
Sensenbrenner is the poster child for term limits on Congresspersons. Isn't it time for him to retire? I've said it before and will say it again: Just Say No to Sensenbrenner. And keep your fingers crossed that the Republicans don't get a majority in Congress in November.
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