Mandatory Minimum Sentences Unfair, Says Supreme Court Justice

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by RMJL, Sep 28, 2003.

  1. Newsbrief: Mandatory Minimum Sentences Unfair, Says Supreme Court Justice 9/26/03
    Even as Attorney General John Ashcroft moved once again to quash any tendencies toward leniency in federal sentencing, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Sunday became the second justice in recent weeks to attack overly rigid federal criminal sentences. In a speech at the John F Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, Breyer called mandatory minimum sentences "unfair" and "not helpful." He joins Justice Anthony Kennedy in attacking mandatory minimums; Kennedy told the American Bar Association annual convention last month that such sentences were "unjust."

    Calling mandatory minimum sentences a "monkey wrench" thrown into the gears of justice, Breyer called for greater flexibility for judges. "There has to be oil in the gears... There has to be room for the unusual or the exceptional case," he said. Breyer blamed Congress, which he said passed too many mandatory minimum laws where "there is no room for flexibility on the downside. "That is not a helpful thing to do," he said. "It's not going to advance the cause of law enforcement in my opinion and it's going to set back the cause of fairness in sentencing."

    Breyer told the audience of more than 500 people than he and Kennedy were not alone among justices unhappy with mandatory minimums. Chief Justice William Rehnquist and "others on the court" shared his views, he said. Nor is unhappiness with harsh sentences limited to Supreme Court justices. A series of moves by Attorney General Ashcroft to crack down on light sentences is threatening to turn a festering judicial resentment over loss of sentencing discretion into a full-fledged rebellion of the black-robes.


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    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/304/breyer.shtml
     

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