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Federal drug laws produce a labeling issue. When you hear the term "drug trafficker," you might consider Pablo Escobar or Walter White, however the reality is that under federal law, drug traffickers consist of people who buy pseudo-ephedrine for their methamphetamine dealership; act as middleman in a series of little transactions; or even get a suitcase for the incorrect buddy. Thanks to conspiracy laws, everyone on the totem pole can be based on the same extreme obligatory minimum sentences.
To the men and females who prepared our federal drug laws in 1986, this might come as a surprise. According to Sen. Robert Byrd, cosponsor of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the factor to attach 5- and ten-year obligatory sentences to drug trafficking was to penalize "the kingpins-- the masterminds who are truly running these operations", and the mid-level dealers.
Fast forward twenty-five years. Today, nearly everyone founded guilty of a federal drug criminal offense is founded guilty of "drug trafficking", which typically results in a minimum of a five- or ten-year compulsory prison sentence. That's a great deal of time in federal prison for many people who are minor parts of drug trade, the large majority of whom are males and females of color.
This is the system that federal district Judge Mark Bennett sees every day. Judge Bennett sits on the district court in northern Iowa, and he deals with a lot of drug cases., I would have sent out 1,092 of my fellow residents to federal prison for obligatory minimum sentences ranging from sixty months to life without the possibility of release.
The numbers can't communicate the absurd catastrophe of it all. This is how he explains a recent drug trafficking case:
I just recently sentenced a group of more than twenty accused on meth trafficking conspiracy charges. Eighteen were 'tablet smurfers,' as federal prosecutors put it, suggesting their role amounted to frequently buying and providing cold medicine to meth cookers in exchange for extremely small, low-grade quantities https://www.criminallawyerslasvegas.com/drug-conspiracy-defense-las-vegas/ to feed their severe dependencies. All of them faced mandatory minimum sentences of sixty or 120 months.
They found that in 2005, the bulk of the lowest-level drug- and crack-trafficking defendants-- guys and ladies explained as "street-level dealers", "couriers/mules", and "renter/loader/lookout/ enabler/users"-- received five- or ten-year necessary jail sentences. This is especially true for crack-cocaine accused, many of whom are black; regardless of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, selling a small amount of crack drug (28 grams) brings the same mandatory minimum sentence-- five years-- as selling 500 grams of powder drug.
This is the truth for which supporters of extreme federal drug laws must account. We need to confess that our sentencing of small participants in the drug trade to prison terms implied for the leaders of big drug companies-- as a common occurrence, not as an exception.
If prolonged mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug addicts really worked, one might be able to justify them. I have seen how they leave hundreds of thousands of young kids parent less and thousands of aging, infirm and dying moms and dads childless.
Here, again, we have evidence that Judge Bennett is right: long obligatory sentences are unnecessary for a lot of drug offenders. In 2002 and 2003, Michigan and NYC repealed necessary sentences for drug culprits and provided judges the power to enforce shorter sentences, probation, or drug treatment. The sky didn't fall, but crime rates did. So did prison costs.
For decades, Judge Bennett has seen a system that doesn't make sense. He has seen obligatory laws composed for the most severe, large-scale drug dealers applied to the men and ladies on the most affordable rungs of the drug trade, and he has actually seen it occur a lot. We once imagined that extreme necessary sentences would be utilized to deal with the leaders of big drug operations. It's time our federal drug laws were fit to individuals that they actually target.
If you have been charged with a drug related offense and need qualified representation, contact us to discuss your case.
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