Pubdate: Mon, 15 Sep 2003
Source: St. Augustine Record (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The St. Augustine Record
Author: David McKinney


Columnist Thomas Sowell joins other critics of Justice Anthony Kennedy's 
negative comments about mandatory minimum sentencing in confusing readers 
about the nature of such sentencing.

His references are to the victims of crimes against person and/or property 
and to beleaguered neighborhoods too often kept in bondage to the criminals 
among them.

Unmentioned is that in the vast majority of mandatory minimum sentencing 
cases, the crime being charged is that of simple drug possession or sale of 
drugs, often small amounts.

While these activities may show questionable judgment on the part of the 
participants, they certainly merit perusal of all extenuating circumstances 
in order to determine if the offender is truly worthy of a long-term prison 
cage at huge taxpayer expense.

There are some individuals who want to point out that dealers of illegal 
drugs and their associated drug addict customer base are a danger to 

We can thank our current 21st century prohibition for creating a market 
where easily made substances can be sold for obscene profits. Rather than 
being controlled by criminal gangs and cartels, these profits could be 
diminished by simply moving all drugs into a regulated distribution system, 
the likes of which exist for prescription drugs, tobacco and alcohol.

Meanwhile, unjust and draconian prison sentences could be eliminated for 
otherwise law-abiding citizens.

David McKinney, Melbourne
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