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Families Against Mandatory Minimums

By Eloquence in MLP
Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 11:40:03 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

I've just discovered the website of Families Against Mandatory Minimum Sentences (FAMM). The site is remarkable because it has a lot of case histories of people serving mandatory sentences (men, federal, state, other). All are non-violent crimes, most of them have to do with drugs. They have a PDF for submitting an individual case as well.


One example case is that of Marcella Robinson: 10 years for "conspiracy to distribute LSD". According to the site, "DEA agents purchased LSD from Marcella repeatedly over a four-year period to accumulate the amount which triggers a 10 year mandatory sentence. Another defendant in this case received no prison time for selling to agents."

These are mostly victim histories of the "war on drugs" (although the "three strikes" victims don't seem to be included). This is what sites like Smokedot fight against (and what GWB wants to invest $2.8 billion in over the next 5 years). Although most of us have taken the criminalization of hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of Americans for granted, it is disturbing to see the real victims of this war, not seldom people who had no real clue what was going on, if you bother to read the case histories. Furthermore, the site points out the inherent failure of "mandatory minimums".

I encourage you to link to FAMM so that this information is spread (I am not involved with them).

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Poll
The 'war on drugs' is ...
o a good way to battle drug crimes 7%
o somewhat questionable 17%
o no way to fight drug crimes 11%
o the actual cause of many crimes 30%
o a method of social control and an income source for the CIA 33%

Votes: 103
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Families Against Mandatory Minimum Sentences
o men
o federal
o state
o other
o PDF for submitting an individual case
o Marcella Robinson
o Smokedot
o GWB wants to invest $2.8 billion
o Also by Eloquence


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Families Against Mandatory Minimums | 36 comments (28 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
My take on mandatory minimum sentences... (3.66 / 6) (#1)
by Miniluv on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 11:09:44 PM EST

I think the three strike rule "victims" weren't mentioned because it's such a sensible action to take...repeat offenders are not being rehabilitated...duh.

That being said, I also do not think our prison system is in any way a rehab oriented institution. The reasons for this are myriad..and not necessarily on topic, though it might be interesting to see what K5's readership thinks about the system as a whole.

I refuse to come out in support of reducing drug penalties short of legalizing said substances, which I do not necessarily feel is the "right" answer...I don't know that current laws, in the US especially, were instituted for the right reasons, but I do think they are quite possibly the right laws.

The really tough thing is, what's the line between a "mandatory minimum" as cited on the linked page versus sentencing guidelines for specific crimes as exist in the US criminal code. I do not think a judge should be left hanging on what proper sentencing is for something like Murder 1...or Assault and Battery, Rape or anything else...these are serious crimes...

Drug related crimes are serious too, in that any violation of the law is a serious issue. I think it's very necessary to have sentencing guidelines in place, one of the major reasons for this being the protection of criminals. I do not want a judge being able to give me 35 years for petty theft, and sentencing guidelines prevent this. Nor do I want a judge being able to give somebody 9 months plus time served for a capital offense.

Having not yet followed the link, said organization hopefullyl has alternative suggestions in place of MM instead of just crying "Down with the establishment".
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Re: My take on mandatory minimum sentences... (3.00 / 4) (#3)
by mparcens on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 11:39:31 PM EST

In some cases, the three strikes makes no sense, even if the people aren't being rehabilitated. Dateline ran a special recently about 5 people who were convicted under California's 3-strikes rule. All committed non-violent crimes (like shoplifting blue-jeans), but all were serving 25-to-life sentences because of that 3-strikes rule.

I know this law has it's place, but that seems a bit absurd, the way it's codified now..

____________
your cookies aren't that secure

[ Parent ]
Re: My take on mandatory minimum sentences... (2.33 / 3) (#4)
by FlinkDelDinky on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 11:45:00 PM EST

I like 3 strikes. Johny gets 2 strikes then Johny better be a good fuckin boy. It's pretty hard to get convicted of three crimes. You got to be a pro criminal for that.

[ Parent ]
Re: My take on mandatory minimum sentences... (2.40 / 5) (#9)
by brainsik on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 01:15:17 AM EST

It's pretty hard to get convicted of three crimes. You got to be a pro criminal for that.

What bothers me is that it seems certain segments of the population are watched for "pro criminal" behavior much more than others. When differences exist in the amount of effort put into monitoring various groups of people, one should ask whether a three-strikes law is possibly being used to leverage control over those population segments that are being more carefully watched.


. b r a i n s i k .
[ Parent ]
Re: My take on mandatory minimum sentences... (1.75 / 4) (#10)
by Miniluv on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 01:55:48 AM EST

Absolutely valid point...though I would qualify it that practice does not make a law bad, just it's enforcement. Recently, where I live, a local law enforcement department had one of the most muddled experiences I've ever seen involving racial profiling. The very thought leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I'm the kind of person who tries to give every person I encounter the same chance to influence my perception of them, regardless of anything besides their personality, and their competence if I meet them professionally.

I do this for cops too, I do not make them prove they don't fit the stereotype, I make them prove they do. If they prove that, I distrust them, the same I distrust anyone else...yeah there's plenty of bad cops out there, but there's at least as many good ones from the ranks I've met.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Re: My take on mandatory minimum sentences... (none / 0) (#16)
by duxup on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 07:31:29 AM EST

It should be noted that in LA 3 strikes is often used, however in many other cities in California (SF specifically) 3 strikes is ignored except for actual violent crimes.

[ Parent ]
Just don't break the law. (3.66 / 6) (#12)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 05:48:07 AM EST

Granted, some laws may not be just, but if someone is holding a gun to your head, you do what they say, even if they tell you to do unjust acts. When you choose to break a law, even a stupid, unjust one, you are taking a risk, willing to face the consequences that may come from such action. If you don't want to have to face the possibility of having to face those consequences, don't break the law. Simple enough.

That being said, I agree that the war on drugs, for the most part, is a waste of time, energy, and tax payer's money. Also, these punishments are a bit harsh... but again, don't cry when you break the law and are punished...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Re: Just don't break the law. (1.66 / 3) (#13)
by TheDude on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 06:41:51 AM EST

Who is to say that the law is right, or even legal?

--
TheDude of Smokedot
Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (2.00 / 1) (#15)
by duxup on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 07:29:13 AM EST

Then you should be making the argument against the law to work to get it changed, not complaining about the punishment. Get to the core of the problem, don't dance around it or hide it in other issues it just weakens your argument.

[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by bugeyedbill on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 07:55:37 AM EST

Laws don't get changed until people break them on a mass scale. That's how segregation laws were gotten rid of. That's why we have a right (at least legally) to organize. How do you think we got the Bill of Rights? If things were done your way, we'd still be burning witches.

[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#20)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 03:34:50 PM EST

Who is to say that the law is right, or even legal?

Well, I think be definition the law is legal. As far as it being right, I don't make any claims on that. What I am saying, though, is that if someone is holding a gun to your head and says, "Do this," or "Don't do this," I would do what they say, or be ready to face the consequences.

If you break the law, you will be punished. That statement, on its own, stands true. Regardless of the rightness of the law, know that if you break it, you may be punished. If you think the laws are unjust, try to change them however you see fit, but understand that you may have to face certain consequences with certain actions... finally, what I hate to see, are those who bitch and whine about facing the consequences when they come due. Hey, you made a conscious decision to break the law in the first place!

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#23)
by Eloquence on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 08:15:11 PM EST

Using the words "conscious decision" in the context of normal crimes is often inappropriate, in the context of drug addiction even more so, therefore "bitching and whining" for having to face a life in jail for possessing or distributing the wrong substances (instead of, for example, alcohol or tobacco, which are both much more dangerous than Marihuana, and equally dangerous as heroin) is more than understandable.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#24)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 11:43:41 PM EST

Using the words "conscious decision" in the context of normal crimes is often inappropriate, in the context of drug addiction even more so

Unless they were forced to start taking the drugs, they made a conscious decision. Please tell me how lighting up a joint, or getting drunk and driving, or doing lines involves does not involve a choice. The joint didn't get in your mouth and lit by itself - you did it. The alcohol didn't pour itself and sneak down your throat - you put it there. The cocaine didn't just appear underneath your nose so the mere act of inhalation would cause you to injest it - you bought the cocaine, you put it there, underneath your nose.

People need to be held accountable for the choices they make.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#27)
by Eloquence on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 03:16:06 PM EST

Unless they were forced to start taking the drugs, they made a conscious decision.

Uh-huh. Ever heard about peer pressure? Heard about lack of education? About tests of courage? About "being cool"? About media images? About parental influence? About puberty? The logic that says that you have to throw someone in jail who consumes the wrong substance, gets addicted and consumes it again is so blatantly false that I'm surprised anyone with even average intelligence subscribes to it. The mere idea that you can help someone by putting him together with rapists and killers; or that you can change his behavior like this, or that you will help society by doing so in the case of victimless crimes, is perverted and can only grow out of a country with a generally sadistic mentality.

It's impressive how large parts of the public have been brainwashed to accept brutality as compassion, curiosity as danger, and ignorance as strength.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#28)
by skim123 on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 04:11:22 PM EST

Ever heard about peer pressure? Heard about lack of education? About tests of courage? About "being cool"? About media images? About parental influence? About puberty?

I still don't understand how any of those influences actually deliver the alcohol to the person's mouth, or the joint to the person's lips. So should murderers not be held accountable, since there is so much violence portrayed in the media? Should politicians not be held accountable for crimes they purportrate because they are assumed to be crooked off the bat and are being pressured by their fellow office-holders?

Come on and grow up. You can whine, bitch, and cry that all these influences made you do something, but, when it boils down to it, YOU were the one who committed the act. Fucking take some responsibility.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#29)
by Danse on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 06:39:18 PM EST

Your rant may apply to many of the above "excuses," but I think "lack of education" definitely stands out as an issue that can be the root of many of the sort of offenses that the website deals with. With lack of education comes a lack of perspective and a lack of choice in alternative behavior. I wouldn't dismiss it as easily as you do.




An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#30)
by skim123 on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 09:34:03 PM EST

Yeah, my rant doesn't apply to those who are unaware of the law and/or the consequences that may unfold from thier actions.

My view is this: if someone is holding a gun to your head you do as they say or be ready to face the consequences that may follow. If a police officer says, "Smoke that weed and you will rot in jail," I have two choices: follow the orders or do not follow the orders and possibly face consequences. The decision is mine to make, but regardless of the decision I make, I need to accept responsbility for that decision. I can't choose to break the law and then say, "But wait, it was my peers' faults for pressuring me into smoking it."

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#31)
by Eloquence on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 11:32:25 AM EST

I still don't understand how any of those influences actually deliver the alcohol to the person's mouth

That's because you don't understand that "free will" is an oxymoron. "Free" of what? Everything is the consequence of previous experiences, some of them informational (learning), some of them emotional. Consequently, laws are not made to "hold people accountable" (not even murderers), they are made to prevent further crime. In the case of victimless crimes, this is obviously extremely dumb.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#34)
by TheDude on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 02:43:16 AM EST

I'm just gonna reply once, here, about this choice thing you two are debating. Yes, if one uses drugs, they must have made a conscious decision to do so. (Except for a very few odd-cases of the gun-to-the-head-smoke-it-or-i'll-kill-you type.) I use drugs. I made a conscious decision to use drugs. So the fuck what? The choice is not the issue here, dudes.

You are assuming that drugs are bad. That's the problem here. Why should someone who chooses to use drugs be somehow less of a person, more of a criminal? Why does the choice to use drugs have to be a "bad choice"? Yes, you should be accountable for what choices you make. Hells yeah, you should. But what you choose to do to your own body should be your choice alone. The government has, and others have, no right to tell you what you can and cannot choose to do. As long as you're not stepping on other people's rights, you should be free to make whatever choices you want, without others judging you as a social misfit, or worse.

--
TheDude of Smokedot
Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#33)
by TheDude on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 02:32:21 AM EST

Hey, you made a conscious decision to break the law in the first place!

If the law is unjust, we should not obey it, but change it or overrule it. That's what this country was supposed to be about - the people rule.

--
TheDude of Smokedot
Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

[ Parent ]
Oh man, think about this for one sec (none / 0) (#21)
by el_guapo on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 05:40:48 PM EST

"Just don't break the law" the USA wouldn't be here if people didn't break the law. I personally think doing or not doing a "thing" for the sole reason that it is a law is absurd. If the governemtn passes an idiotic law, I almost feel obligated to violate that law. All laws should be based on one person unjustly violating another person's rights (obviously IMHO). I think the concept of victimless crime is complete BS in most cases (maybe all cases, but certainly non I can think of at the moment).
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
[ Parent ]
Re: Oh man, think about this for one sec (none / 0) (#22)
by skim123 on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 06:00:08 PM EST

"Just don't break the law" the USA wouldn't be here if people didn't break the law

Granted. The title of my post was incomplete... it should have read: "Just don't break the law if you don't want to have to possibly face the consequences."

If you want to break the law, that is your perogative, and I'm not going to try to stop you (unless you choose to break the law by killing someone, or robbing me, or something along those lines). Just be ready to face the consequences of your actions. I get frustrated with people who break laws (be it a just or an unjust one) and then whine when they have to face the music.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Just don't break the law. (none / 0) (#25)
by evilquaker on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 01:04:51 AM EST

If you don't want to have to face the possibility of having to face those consequences, don't break the law. Simple enough.

No, not really. Read about the cases of William Polan, Antoinette Frink, and Nancy Simmons. These are cases where the people who got harsh sentences didn't even know they were committing (these) crimes.

Besides, how many times have you broken the law lately? Driven over the speed limit? Copied an mp3 file? I believe that most people in the US break some law every day, whether it be speeding to work, or jaywalking or copying mp3s, etc.


"Die, spork user! And burn in fiery torment!" -- Handy, the Handpuppet of Doom
[ Parent ]

Poor Polll and Smokescreen (1.33 / 3) (#14)
by duxup on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 07:24:13 AM EST

2 points to be made:

1. I just can't trust a story who's poll only gives you the choice to agree with the writers point of view. I'm also disappointed due to the lack of a humorous response.

2. I don't have a problem with seeing similar stories posted on K5. I've already seen several that follow the following pattern:

Societal or legal problem A
Societal or legal problem B
I want to smoke pot legally!

I actually agree that mandatory sentences is a problem and have been involved in some work to remove such policies in my home state. I also agree that the drug war costs lots of $ and probably could be managed better. I'm undecided regarding legalizing pot.

The problem I do have is that these articles seem to just be a smokescreen (pardon the pun) to legalize pot. Legalizing pot won't solve problem A or B, move on. Make your argument for legalizing pot stand on it's own, don't hide it behind other problems. After you make your argument to for legalizing pot feel free to sight legal or social problems that would support it.

These articles remind me of some of the politicians I see who are on TV begging to get a bill passed to solve problem A. Although you know darned well that he's really concerned with the $ in the bill for his state or district. I'd probably trust him more if he's made his argument for the $ rather than seem to hide it.

Re: Poor Polll and Smokescreen (2.00 / 1) (#19)
by Eloquence on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 09:44:46 AM EST

1. I just can't trust a story who's poll only gives you the choice to agree with the writers point of view.

This is not the case here.

I'm also disappointed due to the lack of a humorous response.

Sometimes these are appropriate, sometimes they aren't.

I actually agree that mandatory sentences is a problem and have been involved in some work to remove such policies in my home state. I also agree that the drug war costs lots of $ and probably could be managed better. I'm undecided regarding legalizing pot.

I have not proposed legalizing pot. This is MLP for a site that I found interesting, a short look at the victims of the drug war. If you want my opinion: legalize all drugs, prohibit advertising for all drugs, spend a decent amount of money on drug education.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

I don't smoke pot (none / 0) (#26)
by spiralx on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 10:56:36 AM EST

But I'm in favour of legalising it, because I believe there are a lot of good reasons to do so which outweigh the relatively few bad reasons. My like or dislike of the stuff personally has nothing to do with the logical and ethical reasons in favour of legalisation, and I think a lot of people are starting to realise this as more and more unbiased reports are coming out.


You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Re: Poor Polll and Smokescreen (none / 0) (#35)
by TheDude on Wed Oct 11, 2000 at 02:56:18 AM EST

Make your argument for legalizing pot stand on it's own, don't hide it behind other problems. After you make your argument to for legalizing pot feel free to sight legal or social problems that would support it.

You're looking for Smokedot. The problems with the War on Drugs and its effects on marijuana and other illegal substances stand for themselves. I'm not saying it'll solve all problems. I'm saying it'll give us our freedom to ingest what we want, and as long as we don't go out and step on other people's rights, there should be no problem with that. Check out the site, check out the stories, get a fuller picture of the government's precious War on Drugs, its policies and its effects. Then make a more informed decision. I'm not saying you'll be swayed to the legalization side - just have a better knowledge of what's really going on here. I see it as more a war against freedom than a war against drugs.

--
TheDude of Smokedot
Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

[ Parent ]
It's simpler than that (none / 0) (#32)
by freakazoid on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 06:48:12 PM EST

It is the job of the legislature to create the laws. It is the job of the *courts* to interpret the laws, determine who is in violation of those laws, and to determine what punishment they should receive. Mandatory minimum sentences violate this separation of powers and should by all rights be illegal. Most people don't realize it is also the job of the courts to judge the law in addition to the facts. If a jury thinks the law is wrong, they can either acquit the defendant even if the defendant is proven to have broken the law. This is called jury nullification: check out www.fija.org. Of course, the legislature has totally stomped all over the courts with this three strikes thing (in California) and minimum sentences. And even though I'm conservative on most things, I seriously doubt the US's conservative Supreme Court is going to overturn minimum sentencing.

This "just don't break the law" or "only criminals are hurt by minimum sentences" is ludicrous. There is no reason the punishment should *ever* so far exceed the crime that someone is put in jail for 10 years to selling drugs to people who are *voluntarily* purchasing those drugs, especially when the people who they're selling to are really government agents!

Yes, and this applies to the three strikes law as well. There was never anything stopping a jury from sentencing someone to life in prison without possibility of parole *for any crime that warrants it*. Now the three strikes law ties the hands of the judge and jury such that if they find the defendant guilty, even if they have extenuating circumstances, they *must* sentence the defendant to life in prison.

Personally, people who understand these ramifications and continue to support this law make me physically ill. So if you're walking down the street and someone randomly vomits on you, you'll know it's me.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums | 36 comments (28 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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