The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005
 

Mandatory minimum madness - again


On the list of horror bills coming down the pike onto the Senate floor (if we're not very lucky) is HR 1528, the Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005 [1], of Rep James Sensenbrenner.

If - like me - you entertained hopes that, with the passing in New York of reforms to the draconian Rockefeller drug laws [2], the corner had been turned, and the country was moving in the direction of sanity on mandatory minimum sentencing [3] - forget about it!

TalkLeft has the links to get you started on the Sensenbrenner nightmare.

One example: the bill would
Create a new three-year mandatory minimum for parents who witness or learn about drug trafficking activities, targeting or even near their children, if they do not report it to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours and do not provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting the offender.

Where are we up to with the bill?

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a markup on April 6 - as well as a hearing - from which no papers are yet available.

There is no indication when a full Judiciary Committee markup will take place: the site says the Committee is marking HR 1279, the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act of 2005, today.

I note that, while the vote in the subcommittee on HR 1279 was 5-3, the vote on HR 1528 was 6-1. The implication: already, House Democrats are jumping on War on Drugs bandwagon!

Now, the House is pretty much a lost cause, however tight the party discipline on Dems by Nancy 'One Word From Me And They Do As They Like' Pelosi.

But, in the Senate, the opportunities exist - not only for a full-blown filibuster, but for the imaginative use of Senate 'holds'. I have no idea why this device is so little talked about, especially on the Democratic side of the blogosphere: but it's surely a weapon that Dems should be using to the utmost.

(It's hard to know what use is being made of Senate 'holds' given that they are essentially secret.

Neither does it help that the expression Senate holds is virtually unsearchable!)

  1. Colonic titles of academic books and journal articles is one thing: but in bill titles? Usually, long bill titles spell out a name - like the PROTECT Act, say. I can't get a name from HR 1528, though.

  2. A campaign site has useful links, including to a chart showing the new sentences available. The bill was A 11895 and S 7802: this is supposedly the text as enacted.

  3. The failure of the three strikes initiative in California in November was evidence the other way, of course.

MORE

I first got wind of HR 1528 from Rachel Maddow's new radio show, which is moving in the right direction: cutting down on the ranting and monkey-shines, and using the time for imparting useful information. It's probably far too NPR to last...


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