In the United States, federal crimes can carry mandatory minimum sentences.
Unfortunately, the punishment is not always commensurate with the crime.
Last year, a man from Rockford, IL was serving a
mandatory federal life sentence for non-violent drug crimes. Today, this man is one of eight people who received clemency from President
Obama. Instead of serving a mandatory life sentence in prison, he is now
a guidance counselor at a high school in Chicago, where he uses his experience
to help at-risk teenagers.
"The person I have become is my way of apologizing to all I have ever
wronged," he said.
As criminal defense attorneys in St. Louis, our lawyers believe that mandatory
minimum sentencing isn't the solution to crime in the United States.
In fact, this story reinforces our conviction that United States prisons
are largely filled with people who, given the opportunity, could make
a positive difference in their communities.
According to Attorney Nicole Chiravollatti, "…The vast majority
of Americans behind bars are good human beings who are capable of making
a positive impact on society if given the chance. Prison should be a last
resort only for those that are a clear danger to society."
One thing is clear: the United States justice system needs sentencing reformation.
Finding a solution isn't easy, but many organizations, such as Families
Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) are moving in the right direction.
"We must invest in alternative programs so that we can help our fellow
Americans who may have lost their way," said Chiravollatti.
To learn more about FAMM, visit
famm.org. If you or someone you love was charged with a crime, learn about your
legal options by contacting The Hammer Law Firm, LLC today.