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JONESBORO, Ark. – The Future for Felons group is continuing the conversation about giving people opportunities to make mistakes right again.
On Saturday, November 9 from 1 PM to 2 PM at Parker Park Community Center, Future for Felons will host a town hall discussing mandatory minimum sentencing.
NEA Report asked Minister Ime Elugbe to help our readers understand why this matter is an important one. He shared his thoughts, which are below:
Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Handcuffing the judge?
By Ime Elugbe
The War on Drugs over the decades, has produced many stiff, inflexible and harsh sentences, policies, Acts and laws. Mandatory minimum sentences were first introduced in the 70’s as a reaction to the drug epidemic. Most mandatory minimum sentences are for drug offenses and in several cases, they involve nonviolent drug offenses.
When it comes to mandatory minimum sentences, offenders are required to serve a predetermined term for their crime. The key word here is mandatory, which means the judge is bound by law. The judge is not able to exercise discretion and consider any possible extenuating circumstances. Figuratively speaking, the judge’s hands are tied or handcuffed. There is nothing they can do. Mandatory minimums gives the prosecutor more leverage and it tips the power in favor of the prosecutor.
The United States is the leading nation in the world in many areas, which is excellent, but one area we should not be leading is in the area of incarceration: We currently have the highest prison population in the world, yet we are the land of the free. This is a paradox. If we are to reduce our prison population drastically over time, we need to rethink, repeal, and reform several pieces of legislation.
We will be discussing how we can restructure mandatory minimum sentences, whether or not they violate the 8th amendment to the constitution, and more cost effective ways to deal with nonviolent drug offenders. For anyone interested in criminal justice reform, this is a meeting you do not want to miss.