Instead of playing President and inviting foreign leaders to this country like the Speaker of the House, John Boehner did when he invited Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyaho to speak, Congress should be spending their time reforming the prison system in this country to reflect all the states that have legal drug possession laws. Our prisons are overflowing with men who are locked up for life. Men who were sentenced for petty non-violent crimes. Rapist get less time than some drug possession people have. We all heard the saying, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time but the time should also reflect the crime.
Murderers and Terrorists get less time than these guys all because of an old law that is also wasting your tax dollars to keep these guys in prison. There are guys serving 55 years in prison for carrying pot with a handgun. It is all because of a law President Regan signed in 1984 called the Armed Career Criminal Act in his effort to get tough on drugs. There was also the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. That was decades ago and the laws are still in strict effect meanwhile, the attitude of states is much more forgiving to find a man in possession of weapons and drugs now.
Since the 1880’s the Federal Prison population has quadrupled to be 4 times the amount of people in there since then. They have grown from 58,000 to more than 210,000 according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are now serving decades more than before for non –violent offenses. A life sentence should not be spent in jail for being caught with about $1,000 of pot on you. People now legally walk the streets with more pot on them now. These are federal mandatory laws that even a judge can not change. The judge has to impose a minimum number of years. So if a young guy is convicted as is in most cases, the minimum sentence can be 55 years. The Judges hands are tied.
Regan wanted to send the message on the streets that drugs will not be tolerated and he filled up the prisons. Mandatory Minimums can send a message but at some time the message gets lost when others convicted of more serious crimes are being let loose again. Former Judge Paul Cassell is one of the few judges even willing to discuss sentencing. He sentenced Weldon Angelos to 55 years in prison and didn’t want to do it but was required to by the Mandatory Minimum ruling. He has since retired from the bench and now teaches in a law school. If Weldon was an air craft hijacker he would have gotten 25 years, if Weldon was a terrorist he would have gotten 20 years in prison, if Weldon was a child rapist he would have gotten 11 years in prison. It is not right that Weldon had to get 55 years in prison. Congressmen should not be working on their tans and being hosts to other countries and get off their asses to do some law making reforms to reflect our times now.