Oct 22, 1999
We've all heard occasional news stories about how some of the drug laws enacted in the last 15 years may have gone too far. First time offenders get locked up for decades. Judges—even Republican appointees—say that mandatory minimum sentences prevent them from making fair rulings. But have sentences really gone too far?
This hour examines the areas where a consensus is growing on the problems in federal drug laws, and it explains the areas where drug laws seem to be administered fairly.
- We hear the history of why these drug laws were enacted from a firsthand witness. Eric Sterling was the lawyer in charge of drug laws for the House Judiciary Committee during the 1980s, when mandatory minimums were put in place. He tells the inside story of how the laws were rammed through Congress—with no input from judges, prison wardens or police officers—as part of a frenzy of get-tough posturing led not by Republicans, but by Democrats. (15 minutes)
From Chuck Coker.