FAMM Testimony to Iowa House Judiciary Committee on HF 377

Post Date: May 16, 2017

Testimony of Molly Gill

Director of Federal Legislative Affairs, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)

Submitted to the Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee

Considering HF 377

February 22, 2017

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today regarding HF 377, an important sentencing reform bill that would save money, increase fairness, and protect public safety. I would also like to thank Representative Zach Nunn (R, District 30) for introducing this legislation and being a leader on this issue in Iowa.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit sentencing reform advocacy group founded in Washington, DC, in 1991. We have over 60,000 supporters nationwide, including many here in Iowa who have been personally impacted by mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Though we work with legislators of all parties in many states and in Congress, it is our personal connections with Iowans that make our involvement here in Des Moines especially meaningful.

The mandatory minimum problem in Iowa

While no doubt well-intentioned, mandatory minimum sentences are contributing to an overcrowded and expensive prison system in Iowa. Iowa prisons are currently

  • Overcrowded – Current population: 8,329 (114% of capacity as of Feb. 13, 2017)[1]
  • Housing too many drug offenders – One in five Iowa prisoners is serving time for a drug offense,[2] and in FY 2016, drug offenders outnumbered all other offender types in prison admissions[3]
  • Expensive
    • FY17 DOC Budget request: $387 million (from general fund)[4]
    • Prison Cost to Taxpayers: $95.85/person/day (vs. $4.59/person/day for probation/parole)[5]
  • Growing – Iowa’s prison population will grow 30% over the next 10 years, driven by
    • Increased numbers of admissions of drug offenders serving lengthy mandatory minimum sentences
    • Lengthy prison stays for Class B “70 percent” felons
    • Lengthier prison stays overall for those serving mandatory sentences.[6]

In a 2011 study, Iowa’s Public Safety Advisory Board concluded that mandatory minimum sentences:

  • Are expensive: Eliminating them for even a small cohort of 388 people would save Iowans $1.45 million
  • Don’t deter future crime: Those receiving mandatory sentences reoffended at slightly higher rates than those who did not (33% vs. 28%)
  • Do not reduce recidivism for high- and moderate-risk offenders
  • Can be eliminated for low-risk offenders without increasing crime.[7]

Last year, the Iowa Legislature wisely passed, and Governor Terry Branstad signed, HF 2064, which lowered the mandatory minimum sentences for second degree robbery and Class C and Class B drug felonies and made those reforms retroactive. The reform bill had bipartisan support and permitted low-level drug offenders without certain prior convictions to be considered for parole earlier and return to their families and communities to be contributing citizens. These reforms were sensible and laudable, but there is still more to do. HF 377 picks up where HF 2064 left off, and I hope it will be enacted as soon as possible.

The “safety valve” solution

FAMM supports the full repeal of all mandatory minimum sentences – no matter the crime, no matter the offender. We believe this because every person expects and is entitled to be treated like an individual when they break the law. People deserve punishments that fit them and their crimes, and mandatory minimum sentences often fit neither. Like any one-size-fits-all government policy, mandatory minimum sentences are often unjust, waste taxpayer dollars without making us safer, and erode respect for the law and our legal system.

Short of repealing mandatory minimum sentences, FAMM supports granting courts broad sentencing discretion through “safety valve” sentencing rules that create exceptions to mandatory minimums. Safety valve rules like the one in HF 377 give courts flexibility to recognize and prevent unusual, unforeseen, or wildly unjust outcomes produced by mandatory minimum sentences. Offenders are still punished and often still go to prison, but sentences are proportionate, and lengthy and expensive prison stays are reserved for the most dangerous and deserving offenders. Since 1994, we have found that safety valve reforms to mandatory minimum sentencing laws increase effectiveness and fairness in sentencing.

In 1994, FAMM worked with members of Congress to add a federal safety valve[8] to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which was ultimately signed into law by President Bill Clinton.[9] This narrow safety valve applies only to federal drug offenders, and only if they meet all parts of a strict, five-part test: they must have little or no criminal history, must plead guilty, must not have possessed a weapon, must not have played a leadership role in the offense, and the offense must not have resulted in death or serious bodily injury to others. If this test is met, federal judges may sentence the person to a term other than the statutory minimum – for example, eight years in prison rather than 10, or three years in prison rather than five. Since 1994, the federal drug safety valve has permitted more proportionate sentences in over 90,000 federal drug cases and has likely saved taxpayers more than one billion dollars in unnecessary corrections costs.

Over 25 years of advocacy, FAMM has also found safety valves to be an effective, bipartisan reform measure in state legislatures across the country. FAMM has helped people of both parties in state legislatures enact safety valve reforms in New Jersey, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Maryland,[10] and reduce or repeal mandatory minimum sentences in Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Maryland.[11]

In the last 15 years, more than 30 states have reformed or repealed their mandatory minimum sentences, reducing correction costs and prison populations and saving taxpayers money.[12] More importantly, crime has also dropped in states that have been cutting their prison populations through wiser sentencing choices.[13] Experiences in the states debunk the myth that mandatory minimum sentences are necessary to reduce crime.

While many of the sentencing reform efforts at the state and federal level are focused on nonviolent or low-level drug offenses, it is important that states reconsider their mandatory minimum sentences wholesale – even for violent offenses. Florida is a good example. In 2016, we assisted Florida lawmakers in repealing their notorious “10-20-Life” mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated assault with a firearm.[14] The well-intentioned law had forced courts to send people who fired “warning shots” in defense of themselves or others to prison for 20 years,[15] regardless of the facts of the case or the circumstances of the offender. Florida rightly recognized that cases involving guns can be complicated, do not always result in physical injury or death, and require an individualized approach at sentencing.

Among other provisions, Minnesota has a safety valve for its mandatory minimum sentences for second degree assault, possession of a dangerous weapon or firearm during a crime of violence, or being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.[16] In 2015, the Minnesota safety valve was used in 39 percent of the 715 firearm-related cases that carried mandatory minimum sentences.[17] Explaining the safety valve for second degree assault, the state’s sentencing commission noted that

[t]he second-degree assault statute proscribes a broad range of misbehavior: Injury to the victim may or may not occur, and the type of dangerous weapon involved can vary widely, from a pool cue to a knife to a firearm. Circumstances surrounding the offense can also vary significantly, from barroom brawls to unprovoked confrontations. The mandatory minimum statute specifically permits the court to sentence without regard to the mandatory minimum, provided that substantial and compelling reasons are present (Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 8). It is perhaps unsurprising to find many departures in the sentencing of a crime that can be committed in many different ways.[18] 

Montana’s broad safety valve applies to virtually all of the mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenses, including murder, rape, kidnapping, sexual abuse, and armed robbery.[19] These are just a few examples of how safety valves are being used across the country to prevent absurd or unjust results in all kinds of cases in which mandatory minimum sentences apply.

The “standard sentence” rule of HF 377

HF 377 includes a modest but important reform to Iowa’s mandatory minimum sentences: the new “standard sentence” rule. This rule would permit, but not require, judges to give a sentence other than the mandatory minimum term if

  1. There is a “compelling reason” that the mandatory minimum term would result in “substantial injustice” to the person, and
  2. The mandatory minimum sentence is not necessary to protect the public.

The rule is narrow and does not apply to many of Iowa’s most serious offenses, including Class “A” felonies, second degree murder, second degree sex abuse, first degree robbery, child endangerment, and 36 other excluded offense categories.

The standard sentence rule does not repeal mandatory minimum sentencing laws or limit prosecutors’ ability to use them. The provision does not mean that no one will be punished or that no one will go to prison. It simply means that courts will decide, in an open and transparent process in a public courtroom, whether a particular case or offender merits a sentence that is different than the mandatory minimum term. In many cases, courts may continue to find that the mandatory minimum sentence is, in fact, the right one. In cases where it is not necessary or just, however, courts can instead impose a standard sentence and craft a more appropriate penalty.

Iowa’s judges are highly educated, highly experienced, and highly capable of setting correct punishments even in serious offenses. Many of the crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences in Iowa are serious and undoubtedly damaging to victims and communities. But not all of these crimes are the same, not all of the offenders who commit them are identical, and the judge is in the best position to know when a person is sufficiently less culpable, less dangerous, or more likely to rehabilitate to merit a sentence other than the mandatory minimum term. Obviously, we are less safe when we impose sentences that are too short. The same is true when we use sentences that are too long – it is unjust, it erodes community confidence in the justice system, and it increases crime by consuming precious taxpayer resources that could be better spent on policing, prosecuting, or incarcerating more dangerous offenders.

The standard sentence rule ensures that courts are reserving mandatory minimum sentences and scarce, expensive prison beds for the most dangerous and deserving offenders. That’s good for Iowa taxpayers and good for public safety.

The repeal of Class C mandatory minimum drug sentences

HF 377 would also repeal the 20-month mandatory minimum sentences for Class C drug felony offenses committed by people who do not have a prior “forcible felony” conviction. The reform would be retroactive, making Class C drug felons currently in prison eligible for parole starting July 1, 2017, so long as they do not have certain prior convictions. This is a narrow, modest reform, but one that will help Iowa control the growth and costs in its prison system without harming public safety.

To responsibly control prison growth and costs, Iowa legislators can start with how Class C drug offenses are sentenced. These are the lowest-level, smallest-quantity drug crimes that already carry relatively short (20-month) mandatory sentences. By the statute’s own terms, Class C drug offenders are not kingpins. They are much more likely to be people who are playing minor roles in drug crimes or involved in drug trafficking to feed their own addictions, or more likely to be rehabilitated by diversion to drug treatment, probation, or simply less time in the sometimes hardening environment of the state’s prison system. 

Repealing Class C drug mandatory minimums will make a small but meaningful impact on keeping Iowa’s prison population and costs in check over time. According to data obtained from the Iowa Justice Data Warehouse, there were 347 new prison admissions of Class C felony drug offenders convicted under Iowa code section 124.401(1)(c) in FY2016, based on most serious offense. Assuming every single one of these offenders received 12-month prison sentences instead of 20-month mandatory minimum terms, the savings would be impressive: $12.1 million instead of almost $20 million in incarceration costs for one sentenced cohort.[20] Over time, repealing Class C mandatory minimum terms will also help keep prison growth and overcrowding down. The savings from these sentencing reforms can also be focused on making Iowans safer. Savings could be spent on more police, closing cold cases, testing DNA and rape kits, better forensics, more services for victims, or even stronger rehabilitation for prisoners, for example.

HF 377 applies the repeal of Class C drug felony mandatory minimums retroactively. We think retroactivity is important because it reminds all offenders that the system is fair and that justice does not turn on something as arbitrary as the date you went to court. Making reforms retroactive also saves money and limits prison growth. If HF 377 became law, it would permit Class C drug felony offenders currently in prison to have parole eligibility effective July 1, 2017, so long as they do not have prior forcible felony convictions. The parole board would review each person individually, helping ensure that dangerous offenders remain behind bars while those who pose no threat are released.

Based on Department of Corrections data, the retroactive impact of HF 377 would be relatively small, but not negligible: about 250 Class C drug felons are currently in prison serving drug mandatory minimum terms and would be immediately parole eligible on July 1, 2017, if HF 377 passes. Presumably, some people would not be granted parole while others would receive it. Regardless, it is important to remember that the recidivism rate for all drug offenders is 36.4 percent, which is lower than the recidivism rate for property offenders, according to the Department of Corrections. HF 377 gives Class C drug felons – past and future – a fair shake, without endangering the public.

The crack-powder disparity in Iowa

HF 377 also would bring Iowa more into line with the rest of the country in the sentencing of crack cocaine offenders. In the 1980s and 1990s, many states and the federal government created harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws for crack and powder cocaine offenses. Some of these laws treated the drugs very differently, permitting the same mandatory minimum sentences for selling large amounts of powder cocaine or much smaller amounts of crack cocaine. This difference became known as the “crack-powder disparity.”

The crack-powder disparity drew criticism and merits reform because

  1. Chemically, crack and powder cocaine are the same drug and produce the same effect on users, though they are ingested differently.[21]
  2. While both blacks and whites use crack cocaine at roughly similar (and low) rates overall nationwide,[22] most crack offenders convicted and sentenced are black, and most powder cocaine offenders convicted and sentenced are white or Hispanic. Thus, crack-powder disparities create a racially disparate impact in sentencing, resulting in much lengthier sentences for blacks than for whites or Hispanics who are using or selling chemically identical drugs.[23]
  3. Policies that produce racially disparate impacts, like the crack-powder disparity, undermine public trust in and respect for the criminal justice system.[24]

In response to these criticisms, today only a few jurisdictions – including Iowa – continue to use crack-powder sentencing disparities. South Carolina eliminated its disparity in 2010,[25] followed by Ohio in 2011,[26] California in 2014,[27] and Maryland in 2016.[28] Examples of the remaining disparities and their sentences (not all of which are mandatory minimum terms) are listed in the table in the Appendix below.

Reforming the crack-powder sentencing disparity in Iowa will help reduce racial disparities in sentencing and increase both the perception and reality of fairness and equal treatment in Iowa’s criminal justice system. This sense of fairness is essential to effective law enforcement and maintaining public safety. Again, HF 377 is a modest bill: it does not eliminate the crack-powder sentencing disparity entirely, as many other states have done, but it does make the disparity much smaller. That is a positive step forward.

Reforms to robbery sentencing

Finally, HF 377 has some modest but important reforms to first degree robbery sentencing. HF 377 would make first degree robbery offenders parole eligible after they serve a mandatory minimum term that is between 50 percent (12.5 years) and 70 percent (17.5 years) of the maximum sentence, rather than serving at least 70 percent of the maximum before becoming parole eligible. At sentencing, the court would determine when the person may first become eligible for parole, based on a risk assessment, victim impact, and other relevant facts of the case. The bill would also apply this provision retroactively, making first degree robbery offenders sentenced before July 1, 2017, parole eligible once they have served 50 percent of the maximum sentence, unless the person has a prior forcible felony conviction.

Under HF 377, courts would not be permitted to use the “standard sentence” rule for first degree robbery offenders. In essence, then, HF 377 only modestly reduces the possible length of the mandatory minimum sentence for first degree robbery. Under the bill, all first degree robbery offenders would still go to prison for at least 12.5 years – and still face the possibility of up to 17.5 years or more in prison. This is still very severe – and costly – punishment.

While robbery is undoubtedly a serious crime that can cause serious harm, the same rules about mandatory minimum sentencing apply: every case, every offender, and every victim is unique. Unusual or extraordinary facts or circumstances may arise. A mandatory minimum sentence that is appropriate for one defendant’s conduct might be wildly inappropriate for the conduct of a similarly-charged co-defendant, for example. As discussed above, we believe that a case-by-case approach to sentencing is always the best one. HF 377 does not even go that far. But HF 377 would do what sentencing reforms should do: reserve the longest, most expensive prison stays for the most dangerous offenders, and provide courts with some flexibility to prevent miscarriages of justice even when the crime is very serious.

Conclusion

For all of these reasons, I urge Iowa to adopt HF 377 as soon as possible. FAMM appreciates the opportunity to submit this testimony and is happy to answer any questions you may have as you study and vote on this important legislation.

Thank you for considering our views.

 

 

 

[1] Iowa Dep’t of Corrections, Daily Statistics: Feb. 13, 2017, http://www.doc.state.ia.us/DailyStatistics.

[2] Iowa Dep’t of Corrections, FY 2016 Annual Report 16 (2016), http://www.doc.state.ia.us/UploadedDocument/557.

[3] Iowa Dep’t of Human Rights, Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, The Correctional Policy Project: Iowa Prison Population Forecast FY 2016-FY 2026 App. II, Tbl. 5 (Dec. 1, 2016), https://humanrights.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/media/Iowa%20Prison%20Population%20Forecast%20FY%202016-FY%202026.pdf.

[4] Iowa Dep’t of Management, Iowa Budget Report FY 2017 18 (2016) (showing a $6 million increase over the FY 2016 Department of Corrections budget), https://dom.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2016/01/bbb_final_1.12.2016.pdf.

[5] Iowa Dep’t of Corrections, FY 2016 Annual Report 28 (2016), http://www.doc.state.ia.us/UploadedDocument/557.

[6] Iowa Dep’t of Human Rights, Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, The Correctional Policy Project: Iowa Prison Population Forecast FY 2016-FY 2026 4 (Dec. 1, 2016), https://humanrights.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/media/Iowa%20Prison%20Population%20Forecast%20FY%202016-FY%202026.pdf.

[7] Iowa Dep’t of Human Rights, Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, Public Safety Advisory Board, Final Report: Outcomes of Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Traffickers 2-4, 40 (Oct. 2011), https://humanrights.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/media/PSAB_MandatoryMinimumReport2011.pdf.

[8] 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) (2016).

[9] Pub. L. 103-322, title VIII, § 80001(a), Sept. 13, 1994. 

[10] See generally Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Turning Off the Spigot: How Sentencing Safety Valves Can Help States Protect Public Safety and Save Money (Mar. 2013) (describing safety valve reforms in the states), http://famm.org/Repository/Files/Turning%20Off%20the%20Spigot%20web%20final.pdf.

[11] Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Recent State-Level Reforms to Mandatory Minimum Laws (May, 2017), http://famm.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Recent-State-Reforms-May-2017.pdf

[12] Vera Institute of Justice, Playbook for Change?: States Reconsider Mandatory Sentences 8, 12, App. B (Feb. 2014), http://www.vera.org/sites/default/files/resources/downloads/mandatory-sentences-policy-report-v2b.pdf.

[13] See Pew Center on the States, Public Safety Performance Project, Most States Cut Imprisonment and Crime, Nov. 10, 2014, http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/multimedia/data-visualizations/2014/imprisonment-and-crime.

[14] CS/SB 228, Feb. 24, 2016, https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0228.

[15] See, e.g., Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Erik Weyant, http://famm.org/erik-weyant/ (describing how a 23 year-old veteran fired his legally-owned pistol in self-defense, injuring no one, yet was convicted of aggravated assault with a firearm and received a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence for the crime). 

[16] Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 8 (2016).

[17] Minnesota Sentencing Comm’n, Report to the Legislature 41 (Jan. 15, 2016), http://mn.gov/sentencing-guidelines/assets/MN%20Sentencing%20Guidelines%20Comm%202016%20Report%20to%20the%20Legislature1_tcm30-114326.pdf.

[18] Id. at 33.

[19] MCA § 46-18-222 (2016).

[20] This cost difference was calculated using the prison per diem cost of $95.85 per person per day for 347 people, over periods of 12 months and 20 months, respectively.

[21] U.S. Sentencing Comm’n, Report to Congress: Federal Cocaine Sentencing Policy 62-67 (May 2007), http://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/news/congressional-testimony-and-reports/drug-topics/200705_RtC_Cocaine_Sentencing_Policy.pdf.

[22] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2015 Nat’l Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables Tbl. 1.43B (2016), https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015.htm#tab1-43b (showing that 0.2 percent of Whites and 1.0 percent of Blacks over age 12 reported crack use in the past year).

[23] See U.S. Sentencing Comm’n 2007 Report at 15-16; Iowa Dep’t of Human Rights, 2016 Public Safety Advisory Board Annual Report 2 (Dec. 1, 2016), https://humanrights.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/media/2016%20PSAB%20Report%20to%20the%20Legislature.pdf (“Iowa data presented to the PSAB suggest that this disparity in penalties contributes to disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans. … Research was presented illustrating that the physiological and psychotropic effects of crack and powder cocaine are the same, and that the drugs are now widely acknowledged as pharmacologically identical.”).

[24] See, e.g., U.S. Sentencing Comm’n 2007 Report at App. B, B1-B2 (describing testimony in which one federal judge explained how jurors refused to serve in cases involving crack cocaine charges); Editorial: Iowa Should Finally Address Racial Disparities, Des Moines Register (Oct. 24, 2016), http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/10/24/editorial-iowa-should-finally-address-racial-disparities/92682482/.

[25] SB 1154, 118th Sess. (S.C. 2010), http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess118_2009-2010/bills/1154.htm.

[26] HB 86, §1, 129th Gen. Assem. (Ohio 2011), https://legiscan.com/OH/text/HB86/2011.

[27] SB 1010, 2013-14 Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2014), http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1010.

[28] SB 1005, 436th Gen. Assem. (Md. 2016), http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/sb/sb1005e.pdf.

Appendix: Current Disparities in Crack-Powder Sentencing

 

JURISDICTION

CRACK WEIGHT

POWDER WEIGHT

SENTENCE

DISPARITY

Arizona

750 milligrams

9 grams

5 years, presumptive[1]

12 to 1[2]

Federal government

28 grams/280 grams

500 grams/5,000 grams

5 years/10 years

18 to 1[3]

Iowa

10 grams

100 grams

1 year, 8 months up to 10 years

10 to 1[4]

Maine

32 grams

112 grams

4 years

3.5 to 1[5]

Missouri

8-24 grams

150-450 grams

10 years

18.75 to 1[6]

New Hampshire

5 grams

140 grams

Up to 30 years

28 to 1[7]

North Dakota

5 grams

50 grams

5 years[8]

10 to 1[9]

Oklahoma

5 grams/50 grams

28 grams/300 grams

10 years

6 to 1[10]

Vermont

60 grams[11]

150 grams[12]

Up to 30 years

2.5 to 1

Virginia

250 grams

500 grams

5 years

2 to 1[13]

Appendix: Current Disparities in Crack-Powder Sentencing

 

JURISDICTION

CRACK WEIGHT

POWDER WEIGHT

SENTENCE

DISPARITY

Arizona

750 milligrams

9 grams

5 years, presumptive[1]

12 to 1[2]

Federal government

28 grams/280 grams

500 grams/5,000 grams

5 years/10 years

18 to 1[3]

Iowa

10 grams

100 grams

1 year, 8 months up to 10 years

10 to 1[4]

Maine

32 grams

112 grams

4 years

3.5 to 1[5]

Missouri

8-24 grams

150-450 grams

10 years

18.75 to 1[6]

New Hampshire

5 grams

140 grams

Up to 30 years

28 to 1[7]

North Dakota

5 grams

50 grams

5 years[8]

10 to 1[9]

Oklahoma

5 grams/50 grams

28 grams/300 grams

10 years

6 to 1[10]

Vermont

60 grams[11]

150 grams[12]

Up to 30 years

2.5 to 1

Virginia

250 grams

500 grams

5 years

2 to 1[13]

 

[1] Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-702 (2017).

[2] Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 13-3408(A)(2), (B)(2), 13-701(C), 13-3401(36)(b), (c).

[3] 21 U.S.C. §§ 841, 960 (2017). Prior to August 3, 2010, the crack-powder disparity for federal drug crimes was 100-to-one, with mandatory minimum sentences triggered when the crime involved 5 or 50 grams of crack cocaine or 500 or 5,000 grams of powder cocaine. See Pub. Law 111-220 (111th Cong.) (2010).

[4] Iowa Code §§ 124.401(1)(c)(3), 124.413(3) (2017).

[5] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A, §§ 1105-A(1)(D), 1252(5-A)(A) (2017). The court may instead give a minimum sentence of as little as nine months imprisonment if it finds by substantial evidence that (1) the mandatory minimum term will produce substantial injustice and will not fail to protect the public or deter others, or (2) fails to achieve the purposes of sentencing, based on the “defendant’s background, attitude, and prospects for rehabilitation and the nature of the victim and the offense.” See Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A § 1252(5-A)(B).

[6] Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 557.0021; 579.065.1 (2017).

[7] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 318-B:26 (2017).

[8] This is the mandatory minimum for a second offense. A “safety valve” exception permits departure from the mandatory minimum “if the court, in giving due regard to the nature of the crime, history and character of the defendant, and the defendant’s chances of successful rehabilitation, finds a compelling reason on the record that imposition of the mandatory minimum sentence would result in manifest injustice to the defendant and that the mandatory minimum sentence is not necessary for the protection of the public.” N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-32-02.3 (2017).

[9] N.D. Cent. Code § 19-03.1-23.1(1)(c)(2), (3) (2017).

[10] Okla. Stat. tit. 63, §§ 2-401, 2-415(C)(2), (7) (2017).

[11] Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, § 4231(c)(2) (2017).

[12] Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, § 4231(c)(1).

[13] Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-248 (2017). The five-year mandatory minimum sentence is not applicable to first-time, nonviolent offenders who plead guilty and who did not play leadership roles in the offense or possess weapons.