Those sentiments go to Ms. Maxine Waters, U.S. Representative in the 107th Congress, and the 29 colleagues joining her to generate the Major Drug Trafficking Prosecution Act of 2001 (HR 1978 IH). The bill has been introduced and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and to the Committee on Energy and Commerce for a period to be determined by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
The bill itself has wide-ranging changes that affect every aspect of the criminal laws that have wrought havoc on United States society for two long miserable decades.
The bill cites such examples as the cost of statutory mandatory minimum sentencing. It states that the cost of the Federal Bureau of Prisons has skyrocketed by more than 1,350 per cent from 1986 through 1997. While the cost of running the nation's prisons in 1986 was $220,000,000, in 1997 it was over $3,019,000,000.
The bill addresses the fact that mandatory minimum sentencing laws have transferred power of discretion from judges to prosecutors. In essence, it does away with current mandatory sentencing and returns sentencing decisions to the judiciary where it belongs.
Others to be congratulated for their efforts in bringing about this landmark legislation are Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) for their tireless efforts in door-knocking and participating with legislators in reaching the fundamental fairness to be found in HR 1978.
Congratulations are also due to The November Coalition for their continuing fight for the constitutional rights of the citizens of America. The Razor Wire, a bi-monthly publication, can be relied on to put the cards on the table and call a spade a spade.
HR 1978 brings a long awaited breath of fresh air to the stench of laws that have made this once-great nation into a house of prisons. You may soon see this prison-house come tumbling down.
Until next month, I remain your Drug War correspondent, reporting to you from behind the wire.