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January 2004
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More on Mandatory Minimums

Via Hit and Run, we get Debra Saunders’ article today in the SFGate — a followup to the 60 Minutes piece on mandatory minimums.

When I reached Bogan on his cell phone, I asked him how many drug kingpins he thought were in federal prison today. Bogan answered, “My estimation is of the 85,000 drug traffickers in the federal system, there are probably fewer than 1 percent of whom you could call kingpins.”

She also notes:

The worst part is that “60 Minutes” didn’t touch on the most egregious case in the federal system, that of Clarence Aaron, who is serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole for a first-time, nonviolent offense that netted him $1,500. “60 Minutes” executive producer David Gelber confirmed that federal officials wouldn’t allow the show access to Aaron.

… and ends:

But if you feel safer because first-time offenders are in for 12-1/2 years to eternity, it’s because you’ve bought into an illusion: It’s like feeling safer because Al Capone’s accountant is doing more time than Capone.

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