Drug Points to Start Carding Customers?
More Mandatory Minimums? Even before Blakely was decided, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced a bill that would increase from one year to 10 the mandatory minimum sentence for anyone 21 or older who sells any amount of a controlled substance (even a single joint) to someone under 18. A second offense of this sort would trigger a mandatory life sentence.
Apparently not having satisfied its addiction to ever harsher punishments (of others, of course), the House of Representatives is now considering H.R. 1279, the "Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005," an extremely harsh and unnecessary bill that includes many new and increased federal mandatory minimum sentences. As Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) describes the bill:
- Adds many new mandatory minimum penalties to the criminal street gangs statute;
- Broadens the definition of a street gang, and changes the definition of crime of violence to include drug trafficking crimes that involve no violence whatsoever;
- Increases from five to seven years the mandatory consecutive sentence for carrying or possessing a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking offense or violent felony;
- Increases the mandatory penalty for discharging a firearm from ten to 15 years, and
- Makes defendants convicted of “conspiracy” to commit drug trafficking or crimes of violence eligible for the mandatory consecutive firearm penalties if a firearm is involved, even if the defendant did not possess or use the firearm.
There is a Senate version of the bill, S. 155, introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen Cornyn, John [TX]; Sen Grassley, Chuck [IA]; Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] and Sen Kyl, Jon [AZ]. H.R. 1279 is an outgrowth of last year's Feinstein-Hatch bill, which we lambasted here and here as fear-mongering and political pandering.
The Latinos for America Blog explains why this bill will make the problem of gang violence worse, not better.
Now what was that you were telling me about Booker and how the Judge would now be able to sentence your client to a reasonable term rather than these outrageous guidelines?
Update: The House Judiciary Committee's Report (No. 109-74) on H.R. 1279. The House is scheduled to vote on this on Wednesday, May 11, 2005.
Update 2: The House passed H.R. 1279.