Mandatory minimum sentences have long been a point of contention in criminal law. It’s not always fair to sentence someone who commits a crime to the same sentence as another person. The factors playing into the crime often vary, but yet both people are given the same penalties.
Take, for example, the story of a young man who went to prison for a nonviolent drug offense. He was 22 and had to serve 17 years in prison. He has, unfortunately, watched people convicted of much more heinous crimes come and go from prison, yet he’s still there.
He decided to reach out to Governor Bill Haslam because he doesn’t feel he deserves the sentence he received. He was a first-time offender and nonviolent, yet he was given enhanced penalties for “dealing” drugs in his own apartment within 1,000 feet of a school. It was night, and school was not in session.
The judge involved in his case called the sentence harsh, and even the prosecutor in the case believes he should be let out of prison. This month, he filed for clemency. His attorney argues that he had more than spent enough time in prison and that he has sufficiently paid for his crimes. The plea for clemency also comes with a promise that the man has a job waiting for him. Even his mother added a plea for mercy. He is her only son and would become her primary caregiver upon release, something she hopes will happen.
There are times when people suffer as a result of changing laws and minimum penalty requirements. Attorneys treat people differently today than in the past, so it is sometimes necessary to review past cases and look at how the law may have disproportionately affected those involved when compared to those who commit crimes today.