Equal Justice Initiative
“Seeking justice for all treatment…”
John Oliver, ‘Last Week Tonight’:
‘Mandatory minimum sentences can send Americans to prison for decades for even low-level drug offenses—regardless of context—as John Oliver explained on Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight. Even the judges who are forced to issue these sentences often think they’re egregiously unfair.
So why do we have them? Most mandatory minimum sentencing laws were written during the height of the crack epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s, when politicians from both sides of the aisle raced to outdo each other when it came to being “tough on drugs.” Though the policies were immensely popular, almost everyone agrees they were a mistake, and what’s worse, they’ve contributed to the United States’ insane incarceration rate.’
“The large companies behind many local bondsmen are part of the American Bail Coalition, a powerful national association that has spent three decades pushing legislation that makes it harder for defendants like Bland to get out of jail without paying large sums of money. Before ABC began lobbying, in 1990, commercial bail accounted for just 23 percent of pretrial releases; today it’s 49 percent. Average bail amounts for felony cases have almost tripled in the past 25 years. Meanwhile, between 2004 and 2012, ABC companies whose income comes almost entirely from bail saw their revenues increase 21 percent.”
“About 1,000 people die in American jails (not prisons) every year, and about a third of those are suicides.”