SEN­TENC­ING

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - OPIN­ION -

law didn’t de­ter any­thing.

Nu­mer­ous states have re­duced or elim­i­nated manda­tory min­i­mum drug sen­tences and have not seen crime spike. In fact, most are see­ing a de­crease in crime. Long sen­tences for non­vi­o­lent drug of­fend­ers can ac­tu­ally in­crease crime rates by tak­ing peo­ple who could oth­er­wise be re­ha­bil­i­tated and break­ing their com­mu­nity ties, leav­ing them less able to ob­tain law­ful em­ploy­ment upon re­lease.

Bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion re­form­ing our manda­tory min­i­mum laws eas­ily passed the Idaho House last ses­sion be­fore dy­ing in a Sen­ate com­mit­tee. Leg­is­la­tors heard hours of tes­ti­mony de­scrib­ing young peo­ple whose fu­tures were de­stroyed by a mis­take for which Idaho’s laws al­low no for­give­ness, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion or re­demp­tion. While the cur­rent law tar­geted op­er­a­tors of mas­sive drug op­er­a­tions, it was clear that very few “king­pins” were ac­tu­ally jailed in Idaho. Or­di­nary cit­i­zens were more of­ten caught in this net.

We are bring­ing that bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion back this year.

While Idaho had good in­ten­tions 26 years ago, it’s time we made a de­ci­sion based on what we know to­day. Idaho’s manda­tory min­i­mums for drug crimes gen­er­ate real in­jus­tice and ex­pense, with lit­tle, if any, de­ter­rence. Let’s give judges the flex­i­bil­ity to do what’s right — let’s let judges judge.

Rep. Ilana Rubel is the House Asst. Mi­nor­ity Leader and rep­re­sents Dis­trict 18. Rep. Bryan Zollinger rep­re­sents Dis­trict 33.

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