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Mandatory Minimum Reform
Ignore the Prosecutor, Ignore the Problem
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  • Anthony
  • Kevin

    Banning plea bargaining would be a good first step. They are essentially an end run around juries, an attempt to move trials from something where society is represented by juries into a bureaucratic negotiation hashed out among elite state actors (prosecuting lawyers, public defender lawyers and judges -also lawyers).

  • PFPorlock

    A simple solution is to require a guilty verdict for all charges. Charge Smith with thirteen things and the jury finds him guilty on twelve of them, and Smith goes free.

    And why not? If the prosecution isn’t sure it can win on a particular charge, it’s in effect expressing a reasonable doubt about its own case, which is the same as declaring the defendant ‘not guilty’ on that charge.

    • FriendlyGoat

      I like what you have said with respect to the “system”. I’m not sure how that would be received by victims of intimidation or violence from offenders. It’s not much fun to be a victim of someone who tomorrow is on the street laughing at you, no?

      • PFPorlock

        I don’t imagine the prosecutors would enjoy it much, either. Which is why they might quit piling on charges. But nothing is perfect.

    • mdmusterstone

      That’s one of the best ideas I’ve heard for over-charging.

  • FriendlyGoat

    We might ask ourselves whether we would rather spend money on courthouses, attorneys, judges and better-paid juries than on the many corporations now milking incarceration or on the people who hire themselves out as “corrections officers” in prisons and jails.
    (If you have met ten people in corrections, you have met nine who 1) were already questionable when they started, or 2) are now being morally compromised by the culture they live in. If the inmates don’t compromise them ethically, the supervisors do from the other side.)

    We might also make a “big rule” that if you have ever been a prosecutor then you are barred from holding elective office of any other kind. This business of people using prosecution as the “tough-guy” stepping stone to other politics is sick, you know.

  • Fat_Man

    Too many laws. Too many lawyers.

  • rheddles

    Decide where you stand on the drug war. If you’re against it, this is draconian and un-American. If you’re in favor of the drug war this is insufficient. Much more coercive laws are needed.

    How did China kick its opium habit?

    TAI wants it both ways and they’ll get neither.

    • Jim__L

      Well, how did we reduce tobacco use?

  • elHombre

    Without plea bargains the system would sink of its own weight, but not before civil cases, with no right to a speedy trial, would be postponed for years.

    Prosecuting drug cases is essentially a bureaucratic function. Prosecutors don’t object to trying drug cases. They’re easy. Virtually all cases are airtight. What Reynolds and other professorial do-gooders misapprehend is that any reduction in plea bargaining elicits squeals of protests from defense attorneys and judges. The propensity for that squealing predates mandatory sentences. In short, plea bargaining is defense and system driven.

    What the misguided reformers invariably fail to mention as they whine about our prison populations is that we also lead the world in parolees and probationers with nearly 70% of our convicted offenders serving their sentences on the street. Many of them will reoffend. Community based corrections facilitate crime.

    Poor, poor defendants. They get deals that cut their sentences by two-thirds. Really, how ignorant can you reformers be?

    • Rick Caird

      Wow, here we have someone who has no understanding of the concept of risk. It is nice to know that all the drug cases are “air tight”. /sarc

      • elHombre

        I’m sorry, Rick, try as I can I don’t see where I used the term “airtight.” Evidently, you have no concept of accuracy. / not sarc.

        • juandos

          I actually do like your comment but you used the term ‘airtight’: “Prosecutors don’t object to trying drug cases. They’re easy. Virtually all cases are airtight“…

          What am I missing here?

          • elHombre

            Thanks for pointing that out. I got in a hurry. My apology is above.

          • juandos

            No, that’s
            Have a good evening…

        • elHombre

          My apology. As juandos points out, “airtight” is there. Evidently my concept of accuracy is dwindling.

          Snark aside, I’ll stand behind the comment. Drug trials are rarely lost. I prosecuted thousands of cases over many years and never lost a drug trial. A motion to suppress or two, sure, but a trial? Never. I would think the concept of risk is best based on experience, not assumption.

    • Terenc Blakely

      I’m guessing you’re a prosecutor, right? You’d have to be in order to support the current, utterly corrupt system.

      • elHombre

        Do you have any idea how ignorant that comment is? Before I retired, my office prosecuted 14000 cases. How many cases form the basis for your allegation of “utter corruption?”

        Define corruption. Illegality? Based on your comment I assume you are sufficiently uninformed as to believe the procedures and judges favor prosecutors and not defendants. If so, you need to speak to a few victims of crime.

    • Robert T. Ives

      I am a prosecutor. Not all drug cases are “airtight” of course. However, elHombre is right and Professor Reynolds (I am a huge fan of Professor Reynolds) is wrong. Prosecutors would not care if plea agreements were banned. The defense bar and defendants are the driving force behind plea agreements.

      Legislatures actually control this process. They decide what is against the law and what the penalties shall be.

  • george999

    The whole argument presented sounds more like an attempt to draw attention to the number of people in prison by flooding the
    courts. The goal seems to be to force courts to effectively decriminalize or change sentences for drug, property and violent crimes rather than directly fighting the battle in Congress.

    We would be able to pretend we are tough on crime and in the
    meantime the courts would negate it because they don’t have the time and
    money to run the trials for everyone who is actually guilty of the
    crimes we would pretend have such tough penalties.

    If you have data that people in prison are innocent then show it.
    Otherwise, openly advocate that you think drugs should not be
    criminalized, (I agree), or that you think sentences should be drastically
    reduced for violent and property crimes, (I disagree).

    • elHombre

      The goal appears to be repeal of mandatory sentences and more judicial discretion. Judicial discretion in the 60s and 70s resulted in leniency that translated into the skyrocketing crime rates that were curbed by mandatory sentencing in the 80s and 90s.

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