Pubdate: Sun, 22 Sep 2002
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Michaelene Sexton


The Pain of Mandatory Sentencing

REGARDING state Senator Cynthia Stone Creem's article ''Smarter sentencing
for drug offenders'' (op ed, Sept. 2), I am serving a 10-year mandatory
sentence for a first-time nonviolent drug offense. My use of drugs led me to
making poor decisions, selling drugs, and landing in prison.

With mandatory sentencing you cannot earn good time, and you will never be
eligible for parole or probation. Most of the programs in prison are geared
toward those with lesser sentences. People with mandatory time do not
qualify. When you have completed most of your five-, 10-, or 15-year
sentence you are not allowed to go out to work as others can do. This means
you don't get the opportunity to make adjustments and earn money in order to
prepare for your release.

It is such a hopeless feeling. Everything is stacked against you for having
any kind of future. And your family suffers with you.

How frustrating it is to see sex offenders like trusted priests and those
who commit senseless violent crimes receive the same and often lesser
sentences than yours.

Unfortunately, as long as people want drugs there will be someone to supply
them. The real solution is in people not wanting drugs. This means promoting
education and treatment.

I speak for many who are suffering because of poor decisions made by
themselves or a loved one. Senator Creem is on the right track. Let the
punishment fit the crime.


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