Mandatory Minimum Sentencing — another case of legislative micro-management

June 29, 2015 in Law by cincybones

Why should We, the people elect highly trained lawyers, usually among the best in their profession, to be judges if we are going to tie their hands with mandatory minimum sentences for any kind of activity We deem illegal? If the defendant pleads not guilty, a jury has the primary responsibility for determining the verdict – a judge’s primary responsibilities are keeping order in the court, instructing the jury on the law, and on sentencing. As long as minimum sentences are in place, I support commutation of every non-violent drug sentence, until sentencing guidance is back in the democratically-elected hands of our judges. In the power-struggle between statutory and judicial sentencing, we see again the tendency of legislatures to become regulation-mills, churning out laws year after year, until there are so many laws that no agency in government could possibly know or enforce them all, and thus all government agents will possess the very un-democratic power of deciding which laws to enforce. We reserve legal judgment to our judges, who are trained in legal principles, and charge enforcement agents only with apprehension powers. Law needs to be based on principles, not prescriptions, and it’s about time our legislatures started seeing their jobs as identifiers and coders of those principles which reflect justice, and ensurers of statutory adherence to those principles. When legislatures try to write a statute for every little instance of perceived injustice, the aforementioned proliferation of unenforceable rules combined with the certainty that some of those laws will be based on rank politics rather than justice, undermines not only justice itself, but popular confidence in Our justice system.