Federal Drug Crime Laws Sending People to Prison for Life
Article from Reason by C.J. Ciaramella.
In 2014, 26-year-old Tennessee resident Chris Young was sentenced to life in federal prison for a drug offense. The judge in his case had no choice but to sentence him to die behind bars under an obscure “three strikes” law for prior drug crimes after prosecutors filed what’s known as an 851 notice.
The filing, known for the section of the U.S. Code from which it’s derived, was originally intended to give prosecutors leeway to avoid some of the harshest mandatory minimums on the books. But as the drug war expanded, the threat of an 851 filing became a prosecutorial bullying tactic used to dissuade defendants from exercising their constitutional right to a jury trial. It also ties the hands of judges, taking away any discretion they have over sentencing, and has sent hundreds of drug offenders to prison for life. Congress may take up reforms soon—but only if “tough-on-crime” conservative senators and President Trump’s new acting attorney general don’t scuttle the legislation.
Prosecutors responded by filing an 851 notice against him, using two prior low-level crack cocaine offenses that he’d caught when he was 18 and 19 years old. The combined weight of the drugs in Young’s previous convictions amounted to about 7.5 grams, or roughly the weight of three pennies.
In 2013, a jury found Young guilty of drug conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, attempted possession with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a school, and possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug crime. Because Young had at least two prior drug convictions, Sharp was bound by the law to sentence the 26-year-old to life in federal prison.
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: By St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Regarding the judges claim that he had no choice, does we were just following orders ring familiar?
He does seem to get increasingly better at the illicit trade. Ending up at 500 grams. Just sayin, what’s next?
selling a 1/2 kelo of coke next to a school while carrying a firearm ? What do you want to do before you put him away, wait until he shoots a cop?
Bet he ruined a lot of lives between the time he was 19 and when he was arrested this time, or do you think he was not selling any time between this arrest and his last conviction.
Junkys make me puke but God damn the pusher man. Let him rot.
PROHIBITION always causes crime gangs, unsafe products, corrupt cops, expensive prisons…..Let people ingest whatever they want, and leave them alone.
I remember when that law was enacted and most of us cheered. I remember when a 14-year old son of our best friends first succumbed to a dealer’s peer pressure tactic. Everyone knew who this dealer was and where he lived. It was a palatial home near where our friends lived at the time. Law enforcement had tried several times to nail him but he always slicked his way into a mistrial or acquittal. We had a couple of drinks one night and almost loaded up our hardware to shoot the beans out of this dealer. But of course, we didn’t.
Their son suffered with addiction to various stuff for ten years. He went in and out of jails and halfway houses. He was alone for his last five years. He loved to fish regardless of whether it was from a dock or nailing King Mackerel miles from shore. After his last drug trip, he crashed his car and we buried him. His father and I decided America needed something tougher than the three-strikes law but only for dealers. We realized America has been punishing the user when it’s the dealers and producers who should be put down. Although everyone hates deals and considers them shyster sh*t, we decided they should be aggressively used to identify dealers.
A pound of coke and a gun near the school. Sounds like the ideal citizen.
It would appear be did not frpm his first two cases, In fact he escalated his criminal activity. Keep him in prison until age 60. Perhaps with this amount of time to reflect on his stupidity he will then go straight.
For gods sake don’t look at your Congress