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June 2006
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U.S. Conference of Mayors against mandatory minimums for drug crimes

I’m still getting caught up — this was quite an interesting tidbit from last week. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing 1,183 cities with a population over 30,000, passed a resolution, sponsored by Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, opposing mandatory minimum drug sentencing at both the federal and state level.
Here’s the text (pdf):

OPPOSING MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES
WHEREAS, fair and effective criminal justice policies are in the
interest of the citizens of every U.S. city and town; and
WHEREAS, 2006 marks the 20th anniversary of the Sentencing
Reform Act of 1986 which established federal mandatory minimum
sentences for drug offenses; and
WHEREAS, twenty years of mandatory minimum sentencing has
resulted in a tremendous increase in the U.S. prison population,
particularly of drug offenders; and
WHEREAS, people incarcerated for drug offenses return to their
communities facing barriers to employment, housing, public
assistance, and education opportunities; and
WHEREAS, the cost of providing services to returning prisoners
is borne primarily by local governments; and
WHEREAS, almost two-thirds of prisoners have dependent children,
and their prolonged absence destabilizes families and threatens
the economic and social vitality of communities; and
WHEREAS, mandatory minimum sentencing reflects a “one-size fits
all” approach to administering justice that does not allow
courts to impose sentences appropriate to the crime that take
into account the offender’s role in the crime, and the
characteristics of the offender, and
WHEREAS, mandatory minimum sentencing has been ineffective at
achieving its purported goals: reducing the level of substance
abuse and crime and increasing penalties for the most serious
offenders; and
WHEREAS, mandatory minimum sentencing has exacerbated racial
disparities in the criminal justice system, and, particularly
when used to punish drug offenses, has resulted in the
disproportionate incarceration of African American offenders,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United State Conference
of Mayors states its opposition to mandatory minimum sentencing
on both the federal and state levels, and urges the creation of
fair and effective sentencing policies that permit judges to
determine appropriate sentences based on the specific
circumstances of the crime and the perpetrator’s individual
situation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that states should review the effects of
both federal and state mandatory minimum sentencing and then
move forward.

This is good stuff — the Conference of Mayors is a pretty important voice for urban policy.

[Thanks, Beth at MAP]

Update: Corrected size of cities to read 30,000.

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