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Obama Comes Out Against Mandatory Minimums

It's about time. We've been concerned about Obama's perspective on drug policy, but it looks like he's coming around:

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) outlined his civil rights platform Friday, saying that if elected president, he would target racial disparities in the U.S. justice system through a host of measures, including relaxing drug sentencing laws.

"We have a system that locks away too many young, first-time, non-violent offenders for the better part of their lives - a decision that's made not by a judge in a courtroom, but all to often by politicians in Washington and state capitals around the country," Obama said. [AHN]

Obama also pledged to address the crack/powder sentencing disparity, which he's sounded reluctant to do previously.

How could anyone disagree with him? Sentencing reform has become standard fair for the democratic candidates, and I've yet to hear the republicans dispute it. Maybe, just maybe, this one issue can escape the icy death grip of partisan politics. Maybe we can all just agree to stop treating petty drug offenders like murderers and rapists. Can we give this a try? Please?

(This blog post was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
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From Terrible to Bad...?

It sounds like Obama's gone from an F on Drug Policy to a D+ or C- .... Though I wonder if he's not helped more by Guiliani and McCain's out-of-whack perspectives...

Peter M


How about this: don't break the law and you won't go to jail. I realize there are numerous barriers for lower income people and that drugs and drug dealing can be seen as the only way out. But I would imagine that will become an even more attractive option if the punishment for those crimes is lessened. And it would be a less attractive if the punishment was greater (ie Japan, etc.). I realize, many issues with those who are innocent or just barely related to a crime getting their lives ruined if the punishment is much more serious, but how many lives are ruined today by drugs and drug dealers??

God forbid it be your child

God forbid it be your child or a loved one that possibly makes a bad decision, and we will see if your views happen to change when they are sentenced to a five years mandatory minimum sentence!

Mandatory Minumum

Coming from the mother of a young man who has been in prison for 8 years on a 25 years sentence. Mandatory minimuns are cruel punishment, not just to my 24 year old son...but also to his brothers, his daughters and me. Drug addiction is a very cunning disease, and addicts should not be put in jail until all treatment resources have failed. While drugs are considered the root of many evils, the true root is money. It is much more cost effective to sentence a repeat drug offender to long term treatment, in the hopes that they will become productive members of society, then long term prison. Prison does not offer the information it takes to obtain a job, and live a normal life. You are very misinformed if you think that prison teaches a person how to live life on life's terms ... basically our young people live like animals with many people who have nothing to gain or lose in life. They learn to survive, protect themselves, and resort to gangs for protection for their lives. Most people today have been affected in one form or another by drug addiction, a neighbor, a bosses child, a relative...consider those people instead of a stranger and tell me if you think 25 years in prison for someone who never carried a gun, never commited a violent crime, would benefit from this position.

Heart broke in Md.

I could not agree more!!!

I could not agree more!!!

Addict or dealer?

I am sorry about your son and the pain that his criminal activity has brought upon your family. However, I know that people don't get 25 years for possessing drugs unless they have repeatedly been caught in possession of such large quantities of drugs that it is reasonable to articulate that they were selling them. So I have to ask, was your son just using, or also dealing what he used? I don't think it is society's job to make sure that your son lives a productive life. That is your job until he turns 18 and after that it is his job. However, it is society's job to keep drug dealers off the streets that his daughters and the other children in your neighborhood play on. Should every child on your street, including his own suffer, from the evils that drug dealing brings to a neighborhood because your son can't make the right decisions? Should those kids be playing around addicts, violent gangbangers and diseased discarded drug paraphernalia because your son can't get it right or should he be removed from society so the kids who still have a chance can live in a positive environment?

madatory minimums

You are wrong, they are sentencing people to 20 and 25 years for even first time offenders. The madatory minimum
for possession of marijuana plants up to 100 is automatic
5 years, then the federal government trumps up the charges
with conspiracy which is the easiest charge to get conviction
on and then it becomes 10-15 years and then if you go all
the way to court and loose, they add more time at sentencing. You can easily get 20 years by the time they are done with you. the federal government will continue to do whatever they need to do to get a conviction, they really could care less if the person just got involved in something or was
at the wrong place at the wrong time. There goal is to convict
and they do. Beside that what is even worse is they release
violent offenders serving jail sentences if they cooperate and
rat out people who are waiting trials. So they are putting non
violent people in jail and releasing violent people because they
cooperated with the feds. Now tell me how good and fair the
federal government is. I know I lived this with my own son,
who by the way was using the marijauna as a result of cancer
and has never hurt a fly! He is facing 20 years right now.
Lets face it with the world we live in now our kids will never be
safe on the streets. Would you rather have a drug dealer on the corner or a child molester??? The positive environment
can only be found in heaven.

Frustrated and Heartbroken

You are absolutely right! There are so many non-violent offender

Absolutely right!

It doesnt matter!

It shouldnt matter whether your a dealer or a user, locking someone up for a non-violent crime for decades is not the answer to our problems. They come out as hardened criminals, plus the money spent on his inprisonment could have been to to put him on house arrest with parole, provided the resources for him to get out of the "hood," attend drug rehab, give back to the community via community service and find a job. Thats what a prison is for, rehabilitating criminals, not just locking them away. Imagine making a mistake and being shunned for 25 years (or half your life, same thing), does that leave you with ANY probability of getting back on your feet? I say put first time non-violent drug offenders on house arrest, make them do community service and attend drug treatment and job placement sessions, GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE!!!

drug dealing or drug user?

When are some of these people going to wake up and realize that a "drug dealer" may in fact be a drug addict as well. Believe me, I know firsthand! There are many drug dealers out there that are in fact addicted to drugs as well and is perhaps a major reason they are selling drugs. Many drug addicts due all sorts of things to support their own habits. Some steal, some rob, and yes, some deal drugs. Non-violent drug dealers simply do not belong in prison for long periods of time. Although I do believe a harsher punishment is in order for those who deal drugs in school zones and around our youth. However, for those who are non-violent and do not peddle to our youth, treatment would be much more cost effective to the American taxpayer then prison. It costs roughly 22k - 40k a year to house an inmate in prison. On the other hand it only cost between 6k - 8k to put them in treatment. I believe it should be at the judge's discretion to weigh all the factors concerning each case. Mandatory minimums take the discretion away from the judge and gives the prosecutor all the power and that is wrong!! First-time, non-violent offenders should not be put away for periods of time similiar to murders, rapists, and other violent offenders!! How is that justice???

war on meth or human rights?

what is so amazing is how blinded people really are to what is actually happening! for those of you who believe anyone deserves a mandatory minimum in a drug crime needs to ask themself this question: are you safe from spending a 10 to life sentence? if your answer is yes then you are sadly mistaken! most drug crimes are labled as conspiracy drug charges! in a conspiracy you do not have to commit, act, or even be aware of the crime being committed!! why? cuz joe blow down the street who is facing a mandatory minimum gave your name, a location, time, amount, and when it all took place! too bad soo sad for you cuz joe blow has a friend who has just been arrested for the drugs in his possession he says he bought from you!! hello to ten to life for a conspiracy you were not aware of! your mandatory minimum for the amount involved an the class it falls under! an your assistance they dont need cause of the assistance they already have! rights? you said? huh! you have none!! you are now an inmate of a system you claim is keeping your children safe from drugs! while you are doing your time for a crime unjust i hope you do not have children for chi mo nasty to prey upon!! wake up!! drugs should be the least of your worries when it comes to your children!! noone deserves to spend a mandatory minimum for a drug, your system, administers to its military troops!! its a war alright!!

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