CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, January 19, 2006

2nd Cir: Judge Criticizes Federal Mandatory Minimums

Forced to impose a sentence he deemed unjust, Northern District of New York Judge David Hurd harshly criticized the federal statute, 21 U.S.C. §846, that required him to impose a life-without-parole term on a 32-year-old "relatively small-time drug dealer" with an IQ of 72.  Judge Hurd said child rapists and murderers will go free on parole while Justin D. Powell languishes in prison for life.  Powell was convicted of drug crimes twice during his teenage years, more than a decade before the instant offense. Because of those prior convictions, the sole sentencing option was life, Hurd said. According to 21 U.S.C. §846, the only way to escape the mandatory minimums is to provide "substantial assistance" to the prosecution. Story. . . [Mark Godsey]

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