Nonviolent Offenders Obeyed State Laws, Went to Jail Anyway

Post Date: August 5, 2013

That’s the titled of this excellent piece by Robby Soave over at the Daily Caller. It quotes FAMM’s Molly Gill and explores the cases of two FAMM members serving long prison terms for nonviolent drug offenses, Sharanda Jones and Jack Carpenter:

Sharanda Jones never considered herself a criminal mastermind. Her job was just buying the cocaine powder; other members of the organization rendered it into crack cocaine and sold it. Jones owned a gun — for self-protection — but never used it. And yet Jones, a nonviolent drug purchaser, is serving life without parole — at a cost to the taxpayers of over a million dollars.

Jack Carpenter was a California resident who grew marijuana for personal, medicinal use. Eventually, he expanded his operation and began growing marijuana to sell to dispensaries that then sold to patients–as permitted under state law. But under federal law, Carpenter’s actions were illegal. After he was convicted in 2010, mandatory minimums bumped his sentence up to 10 years.

Soave also discusses the growing conservative support for sentencing reform, pointing to the current system’s exorbitant cost to taxpayers and concerns about overfederalization and overcriminalization:

Mandatory minimums are an increasing concern for conservatives as well. For one thing, the cost to incarcerate nonviolent offenders is simply too high. “One out of every four Department of Justice dollars is locking up nonviolent drug offenders,” said Gill. “Half the prison population is nonviolent drug offenders.”

You can read the rest here.

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