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.