Florida Needs Mandatory Minimums for Cocaine Trafficking

Post Date: April 2, 2018

According to the 2016 Florida Medical Examiners “Drugs in Deceased Persons” report, cocaine caused more deaths of Floridians in 2015 than any other drug. Cocaine was the third most frequently found in decedents the same year, when 2,882 Americans – nearly as many as were killed on 9/11 – were found dead with cocaine in their system. According to the report, “occurrences of cocaine increased by 57 percent and deaths caused by cocaine increased by 83 percent” from the previous year.

According to one report, the Drug Enforcement Administration revealed that more cocaine made its way into South Florida last year than any time in the last decade. Per the same report, Florida’s Customs and Border Protection confiscated 4,200 pounds of cocaine [in 2016], compared to 1,730 pounds the year prior.” The DEA says increased supply is driving the price of cocaine down.

Easy access to cheap cocaine is killing Floridians, and something must be done. I propose the only thing that has ever worked to solve a drug crisis: mandatory minimum sentences for cocaine trafficking.

Under my plan, any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, 28 grams or more of cocaine will face a mandatory minimum of three years in PRISON, and a mandatory $50,000 fine. 200 grams? The mandatory sentence is seven years, and the mandatory fine is $100,000. 400 grams? 15 years mandatory minimum and a $250,000 fine.  

My plan will accomplish two goals. First, it will send a signal that Florida is CLOSED FOR BUSINESS to drug traffickers. Once they see we are finally ready to THROW THE BOOK at them, the thugs who prey on our children will run away from our state, and they will take their deadly poisons with them. This means no more cocaine in Florida – and that’s huge. Second, it will guarantee that criminals who peddle poison will face hard time. And when a DRUG TRAFFICKER is locked up, he can’t sell drugs, and he will not be replaced immediately by a different dealer looking to fill the demand for cocaine. And if he is? We’ll catch the next guy and LOCK HIM UP, too. And the one after him, ad infinitum. I’d call that a big win for public safety. 

What can we expect to see after adopting my plan? In short, unmitigated success that takes at least two forms. First, with no traffickers bringing cocaine into the state, and no dealers to sell it, the cocaine supply will dry up. That means fewer addicts, and fewer overdose deaths. Second, because would-be drug dealers (who are also never addicts themselves) will be scared away by the prospect of harsh prison time, we will see fewer drug arrests, fewer prison admissions, and a smaller prison population. That means big savings for Joe Taxpayer.

It is long past time Florida begins to take its drug problem seriously, and that means putting resources where research shows they have the most impact – long terms of incarceration imposed randomly on defendants involved in the drug trade at any level, irrespective of their moral culpability. Mandatory minimums work, and we should try them if we’re serious about reducing cocaine deaths.

Just don’t pass a safety valve, because that is a terrible idea.   

UPDATE: I am told Florida has had mandatory minimums for cocaine trafficking since 1979. I regret the error.

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