Acknowledging that he had just imposed an "unjust sentence" on a low-level drug dealer, a Federal Judge is charging that he had no choice because US Attorney General Eric Holder has failed to make good on his promise to change the rules. The unjust sentence -- five years in prison -- was meted out by Federal District Court Judge John Gleeson to Jamel Dossie, a young, small-time, street-level drug dealer's assistant....Dossie thus became a victim of Congress's "war on drugs." For many headline-hungry members of Congress, the drug war is a gift that keeps on giving. Being seen to be "tough on crime" generates press releases, floor statements, and media interviews. It was to fight that war that Congress, in 1986, passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, (ADAA), which first established mandatory minimum sentences and enhanced maximum sentences for drug-related offenses. From that point forward, judges were largely stripped of their discretion to modify sentences to fit the crime and the criminal. Though the law contains some cases in which Judges can take account of mitigating circumstances, they were largely mandated to follow the rules established by Congress. For example: The ADAA's five-year minimum sentence, with a maximum enlarged from 20 to 40 years (the "5-to-40 sentence enhancement" or the "five-year mandatory minimum"), was specifically intended for the managers of drug enterprises, while the Act's ten-year minimum sentence with life as the maximum (the "ten-to-life sentence enhancement" or the "ten-year mandatory minimum") was intended for the organizers and leaders. Dossie was neither, Judge Gleeson said.
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