Post Date: September 19, 2013
(Forbes/Julie Stewart quoted) — Toward the end of a hearing at which the Senate Judiciary Committee heard about the jaw-dropping injustices caused by mandatory minimum sentences, John Cornyn sounded a note of caution. “We have to be careful not to legislate by anecdote,” said the Republican senator from Texas.
Why start now? Congress spends much of its time legislating by anecdote, whether it’s a story about a teenager who killed himself after consuming ersatz marijuana, a college student driven to bank robbery by online poker, or a mass murderer who supposedly used a “military-style assault rifle.” Here is one issue where anecdotes are perfectly appropriate, since it is impossible to assess the merits of a sentencing system without examining actual cases. If the law allows, let alone requires, grossly disprortionate penalties, it’s a problem that needs to be corrected.
That is something Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) understands. “The injustice of mandatory minimums is impossible to ignore when you hear the stories of the victims,” he told the committee at Wednesday’s hearing. Read more