39 Questions for Proponents of New Mandatory Minimums in Florida

Post Date: April 26, 2017

  1. There is a mandatory minimum on the books now for lower-level heroin trafficking, correct? 
  2. How long has that mandatory minimum been on the books? 
  3. Is the heroin overdose rate higher or lower today than it was in 1999? 
  4. There is a mandatory minimum on the books for lower-level cocaine trafficking, correct? 
  5. How long has that mandatory minimum been on the books? 
  6. Is the cocaine overdose rate higher or lower today than it was in 1999? 
  7. There is a mandatory minimum on the books for Oxycodone trafficking, correct? 
  8. How long has that mandatory minimum been on the books?
  9. Is the Oxycodone-related death rate higher or lower today than it was in 1999? 
  10. There is a mandatory minimum on the books for hydrocodone trafficking, correct?
  11. How long has that mandatory minimum been on the books? 
  12. Is the hydrocodone-related death rate higher or lower today than it was in 1999? 
  13. The legislature raised trafficking threshold weights and relaxed sentences for hydrocodone trafficking in 2014, correct?
  14. What happened to hydrocodone-related deaths between 2014 and 2015? 
  15. Has Florida’s drug-induced death rate increased or decreased since adopting mandatory minimums for lower-level drug trafficking offenses in 1999? 
  16. Is it your position that Florida’s mandatory minimums have deterred drug trafficking?
  17. What evidence do you have for that position?
  18. Do you have any evidence that contradicts the 2009 Florida Senate report that found no evidence of a general deterrent effect from Florida’s mandatory minimum drug laws?
  19. What happened to prison admissions for drug offenses after Florida adopted mandatory minimums for drug trafficking? 
  20. Are those prison admissions numbers consistent with your theory that mandatory minimums deter drug trafficking?
  21. Are record-levels of heroin overdoses consistent with the theory that mandatory minimums would deter heroin trafficking?
  22. Are higher levels of cocaine overdoses consistent with the theory that mandatory minimums would get cocaine off the streets?
  23. What happened to the crime rate in Florida between 1993 and 1999, when we punished most drug trafficking offenses with sentencing guidelines and not mandatory minimums?
  24. Mandatory minimums were intended to target “major players” and kingpins, correct?
  25. Is it your position that mandatory minimums are applied only to the people they were intended to target?
  26. Are you familiar with the 2012 OPPAGA report on opioid trafficking penalties?
  27. Are you aware that the OPPAGA report found that most of the offenders they surveyed serving mandatory sentences for opioid trafficking either possessed or sold amounts of pills equivalent to one or two prescriptions – between 30 and 90 pills?
  28. Are you aware the same report found that 25% of inmates serving mandatory sentences for hydrocodone trafficking were caught with fewer than 15 pills?
  29. Are you aware that the OPPAGA report found 74 percent of inmates serving mandatory minimums for opioid trafficking had never been to prison previously?
  30. Are you aware the same report found half had either never been on probation or had been on probation solely for drug possession?
  31. Are you aware that 84% of those inmates had no current or past violent offenses?
  32. Are you aware the same report concluded the majority of inmates serving mandatory sentences for opioid trafficking “had minimal prior criminal involvement and substance abuse problems”?
  33. Do you believe that offenders with “minimal criminal involvement and substance abuse problems” are the kinds of offenders the legislature anticipated being sentenced to mandatory minimums when it passed the 1999 law?
  34. So the 1999 mandatory minimums were intended to target major drug traffickers, deter drug trafficking, and reduce drug overdose deaths, and instead we’ve incarcerated thousands of low-level drug offenders, we have more drugs on the street now than we did then, and drug overdoses are at record levels, is that correct?
  35. If someone sells a mixture of heroin and fentanyl that weighs more than four grams, there is already a mandatory sentence for that offense, correct?
  36. If someone who buys four grams – that’s seven or eight pills – under the impression they are Oxycodone pills, but which turn out to be counterfeit fentanyl pills, what is the mandatory sentence for that offense under this bill? 
  37. If someone buys 28 grams – about 44 pills, or one bottle’s worth – under the impression they are Oxycodone pills, but which turn out to be counterfeit fentanyl pills, what is the mandatory sentence for that offense under this bill?
  38. If a college student buys pill she thinks are Xanax, but actually have fentanyl in them, and he gives one to a friend who overdoses, what is the potential sentence for that college student under this bill?
  39. Do you have any evidence – research, statistics, data, experience from other states, anything at all – that suggests a new mandatory minimum for fentanyl trafficking will work to deter fentanyl trafficking and reduce overdose deaths?

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