The misery of mandatory minimums
The despicable injustice of mandatory minimum sentencing is clearly illustrated in this case. Weldon Angelos was arrested in 2002 for selling 8 ounces of marijuana to an undercover agent. He also happened to be carrying a gun, which he never used in connection with the deal. He also owned guns which he kept in his home. He is not charged with any offenses regarding them outside of possession.
His case has now wound its way through the courts and he has been sentenced to 55 years in jail under mandatory minimums on account of the gun possession enhancements to his sentence. That's "far more than he would have gotten if he had been convicted of hijacking a plane, kidnapping or second-degree murder." Not to mention, because there is no flexibility in this sentencing, and the overcrowding of jails with drug defendants, violent offenders will no doubt be released earlier to make room for men like Weldon.
One thinks this travesty hardly serves society. Judges would agree.
Angelos' plight has drawn the support of 29 former judges and prosecutors who filed a "friend of the court" brief saying the sentence shows how mandatory minimums can violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.Even the "judge who sentenced Angelos in 2004 agonized over the decision in a 67-page order in which he called upon the president to commute the sentence and encouraged Congress to address the laws." Unfortunately, with prohibition profiteers like Mark Souder writing policy, mandatory minimums are more popular inside the Beltway than ever.
It's well past time to remove lawmakers who just don't get that Americans want laws based on public safety and not politics. Here's hoping as candidates start running judge who sentenced Angelos in 2004 agonized over the decision in a 67-page order in which he called upon the president to commute the sentence and encouraged Congress to address the laws on anti-WOsD platforms, which they are beginning to do, the drug war ideologues will get the message and change their tune.
[hat tip JackL]