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The thousands of nonviolent crimes that have resulted in LWOP sentences include possession of a crack pipe, a smudge of heroin in a bottle cap, and "a trace amount of cocaine in clothes pockets that was so minute it was invisible to the naked eye and detected only in lab tests," according to the report. In each case, the defendant had previously been convicted of other crimes -- often decades-old and mostly of the non-violent variety.

Prisoners serving life without parole make up one of the fastest-growing populations in the prison system, according to the ACLU's analysis of data from the United States Sentencing Commission, the federal Bureau of Prisons and state corrections departments. The report attributes this rise partly to the prevalence of mandatory-minimum sentencing laws and other punitive drug policies embraced by lawmakers who hoped to define themselves as "tough on crime" in the '80s and '90s.

Just heartbreaking to read these.  I read every one and I hope you do too.  Shame on those who voted for mandatory minimum sentencing for drugs.  Even the judges in a lot of those cases were sickened by decisions they made while their hands were tied.

There really is therefore no judge in these cases.  Their cases are thus not heard.  Sounds unconstitutional to me.  

Just a bunch of insane laws.  I'd like to know specifically how they got there; who voted for them.

The legislature here has literally also become the judge, jury and executioner.

2:33 PM PT: Tonight I will be where there is no computer.  So I have to sign off now.  Back ASAP.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A main tenet of the justice system is supposed (10+ / 0-)

    to be that it takes a qualified human to judge, specific to each case, what the appropriate sentencing should be.

    There is wisdom in this.  And here we see why.  Formulas banged together by "Let's kick some criminal ass!" legislators, banged into law, mandatory, no room for common-sense human judgement by the judge.  The results speak for themselves in this list.

    It's horrible what the "war on drugs" has done to non-violent prisoners and their families nationwide.  Far more damage to the family, in many cases, than the drug use itself was.  Any full time children-families oriented social worker who's been on the job for more than a year or two, holds heartbreaking stories.  

  •  Broken in so many ways. (4+ / 0-)

    Mix the blood and make new people!

    by Yonkers Boy on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 02:27:47 PM PST

  •  One more thing for now -- much more than 32 lives. (6+ / 0-)

    The families.

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 02:34:45 PM PST

  •  Dealing drugs isn't non-violent. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misslegalbeagle

    It is the indispensable element in the violence that plagues our society.  I agree that life sentences, with or without parole, are inappropriate for retail drug dealers but I think that dealing drugs is so totally part-and-parcel of the worst kind of violence, at every point in the production-to-consumption chain, that it's wrong to see them as non-violent offenders any more than the lookout for a convenience store robbery is a non-violent offender.

    The case for releasing these people, after some non-trivial period of time, is that literally and directly violent offenders generally don't go to jail for life.  I don't see these people as better in any meaningful sense, just the same and that's enough to radically improve their prospects.

    My comments are coming from a place of love.

    by Rich in PA on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 02:59:38 PM PST

  •  "Tonight I will be where there is no computer." (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, dov12348, HeyMikey

    Where is this fantastic place, and will you take me?

    Jokes aside, you might find the origin of mandatory minimum sentencing laws in ALEC.

    ALEC's corporate members include at least a dozen companies that do prison business. Like Dupont; the drug companies, Merck , and Glaxo Smith-Klein; and the telephone companies that compete for lucrative prison contracts. And Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). It dominates the private prison business -- building and running prisons and renting cells to governments. At last count the company housed 55,000 inmates in 65 facilities in twenty-one states and Puerto Rico, says CCA Vice President Louise Green.

    Prison vendors who've contributed to, or are members of, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):

    *    Ameritech
    *    AT&T
    *    Bayer (Sheffield Plastics division)
    *    Bell Atlantic
    *    Bell South
    *    Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)
    *    DuPont Company
    *    GlaxoSmithKline
    *    MCI
    *    Merck & Co.
    *    National Association of Bail Insurance Companies
    *    Schering Plough
    *    Sodexho Marriott (until recently a major investor in CCA)
    *    Sprint
    *    Turner Construction
    *    Qwest (formerly US West)
    *    Pfizer
    *    Wackenhut Corrections
    Sources: ALEC, American Correctional Association

    'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

    by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:00:16 PM PST

  •  I noticed the one guy is George Martorano (0+ / 0-)

    That is a strange and interesting case. According to Wikipedia, the prosecutors recommended 40 to 54 months imprisonment. I don't think they would recommend that light of a sentence for someone who was a huge dealer?  But George's father was Raymond "Long John" Martorano of the Philadelphia mob family. That family was in the middle of the insane 1980s intra-family war. Bodies left all over the place.  George's lawyer was Robert Simone, a mob defense lawyer who was indicted for tax evasion just before George Martorano's sentencing. The judge in Martorano's case was a character witness in Simone's tax evasion trial. I don't know if the harsh sentence was because of Martorano's father? Maybe they thought George Martorano was a bigger dealer than he got caught with? Maybe they thought he was lying when he said he didn't know what his father was up to? It does seem like a harsh sentence considering the prosecution was only asking for 40 to 54 months. I think the whole story has not been told.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 07:17:58 AM PST

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