Mandatory Minimums Keep Many Nonviolent People Behind Bars

Post Date: August 17, 2013

(Tampa Bay Tribune) — Timothy L. Tyler was a free-spirited Grateful Dead fan who followed the band around the country in his camper, selling fried dough and smoothies to other fans and buying LSD to sell to his friends back home.

Sherman Chester was a former St. Petersburg football player who dropped out of college after his mother was diagnosed with cancer and then began selling cocaine on the city’s streets.

Each man had run-ins with the law, receiving probation or house arrest for drug offenses before they found themselves in their mid-20s in federal court in the 1990s.

And because of mandatory sentencing laws, each received sentences of life in federal prison. Read more…