Earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Obama Administration was interested in reducing the number of nonviolent drug offenders in prison and creating fairer drug sentences. As it is, federal sentencing laws really restrict what kind of leeway a judge has when sentencing someone. Even if the individual has no criminal record or was extremely cooperative during the trial, a judge may still have to sentence him or her to a long time in prison. The federal government’s move to change that signaled a step forward in federal sentencing.
Unfortunately, a Springdale, Arkansas, man did not benefit from those changes. The man was arrested in December 2012 and found guilty of possession of more than 500 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in September. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
THV 11 has not reported that the man was violent or that he had done anything other than sell drugs, which should have qualified him for a fairer sentence. Yes, he is accused of carrying 15 pounds of meth, but he did not harm or injure anyone. Despite this, he may spend more time in prsion than individuals who have done far worse and have hurt far more people.
It remains to be seen when sentencing changes will find their way to Arkansas, but it will hopefully be soon. To shut people away for such long periods of time just for having drugs seems unjust, especially when it is compared to sentences following other more violent crimes.
Source: THV 11, “Operation results in 11 more charged for drug trafficking,” Oct. 25, 2013