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May 15, 2005

Still more criticisms of gang bill

Last week in this post, I detailed some of the emerging criticisms of the House's passage of an anti-gang bill, HR 1279, which includes a number of mandatory minimums.  In recent days I have seen, in addition to the Miami Herald's strong editorial against the bill, a few more editorials expressing displeasure with the House's political posturing. 

  • From the Long Beach Press-Telegram: "[I]t's incredibly naive and simplistic to think that longer prison sentences are the solution and intervention programs are folly.  Until Congress starts coming up with real solutions, gangs will continue to flourish.  Communities won't be served by tough talk from self-serving politicians: they need more money for local anti-gang efforts, inner-city jobs programs, education, mentoring for at-risk youth, and other community programs that can and do make a difference."

  • From the Kentucky Courier-Journal: "[The bill] also sets mandatory minimum sentences, which shows that the House — despite a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, and the public reaction to its interference in the Terri Schiavo case — remains determined to prevent judges from actually judging.  The truth is, there's no evidence that anyone in law enforcement or the courts has been taking gang activity lightly — including all the Republican governors and GOP-dominated state legislatures that have been making state laws recently."

I also noticed that FAMM has created this interesting scorecard indicating who voted for and against HR 1279 and FAMM is encouraging folks to "send an email to thank or scold [your representatives] for their vote."

UPDATE:  I now see two more potent editorials which also see through the rhetoric being espoused in support on HR 1279:

  • From the Washington Post: "The so-called 'Gangbusters' bill [includes] terrible ideas that ought to be rejected if and when the Senate considers similar legislation....  Mandatory minimums ... permit no attention to the individual circumstances of the convicts — except to impose harsher penalties still.  Such sentencing regimes at the state and federal levels have been overwhelmingly harmful.  Members of Congress may be keen to deprive federal judges of the new discretion the Supreme Court has given them.  But this is the worst possible answer."

  • From the Daytona Beach News-Journal: "The Sentencing Commission ... disagrees with minimum sentences.  It considers them inefficient precisely because their dragnet approach ignores individual, mitigating circumstances and ends up overloading both the court and penal systems. But just as congressional anti-crime sprees are often less about reducing crime than about appearing to be tough on crime for election season's spotlight, fresh mandatory sentences are less about deterring crime than about posturing against the judiciary.  Otherwise, the bills wouldn't be so bare on constructive initiatives such as gang intervention programs on the streets, reform programs for gang members in prison or transition programs for felons leaving prison.  Clearly, the will of Congress isn't there."

May 15, 2005 at 08:11 PM | Permalink


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I am a mother of a child who was senteced in 1979 he was barely 17 yrs old now is 25 yrs old. he is serving the 85% for second degree murder which was his lawyers work. we feel this was not fair justist to our son . he did not kill anyone but because he was there when it happened we were told by his attorney. we are opposing H. R. 1279

Posted by: Marcia Mann | Aug 10, 2005 3:30:38 PM

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