Rand Paul: Minimizing authority of judgesSubmitted by legalizeliberty on Fri, 04/05/2013 - 14:53
By Sen. Rand Paul April 5, 2013
I, like anyone else, whether a member of Congress or a parent, am concerned with the well-being of our children. We all want to keep our families and our communities safe. We want to see violent predators and criminals put behind bars and punished for the harm they do to others and to society.
Judges will tell you that current federal sentencing laws — known as mandatory minimums — don’t actually do anything to keep us safer. In fact, judges will tell you that mandatory minimums do much harm to taxpayers and to individuals, who may have their lives ruined for a simple mistake or minor lapse of judgment.
Mandatory minimums reflect two of the biggest problems in Washington: The first problem is the idea that there should be a Washington-knows-best, one-size-fits-all approach to all problems, be they social, educational or criminal. This approach leads to our second problem: Washington’s habit of undermining the system our Founding Fathers created. Their system left as much power as possible in the hands of local and state officials, and sought to treat people as individuals, not as groups or classes of people.
Last year in my community, a family lost one of their sons to an overdose. They almost lost their other son to a mandatory minimum sentencing. Federal law requires a mandatory 20-year sentence if a death occurs, even an accidental one. If prosecutors had charged the surviving brother in federal court, he would have received a mandatory 20-year sentence.