After decades of fighting against federal mandatory minimum sentences and tough sentencing grids put in place during the height of the crack and drug epidemic of the 80’s, things are finally starting to change.
We can only speculate what’s driving the growing change in attitude. It may have been the call for sentencing reform by then Atty. General Eric Holder, who clearly had the support of the country’s executive chief officer. Recently, tough economic times may have been a major influencer as governments struggle to make ends meet. Or maybe the momentum shift gained root when Charles Koch jumped on the prison reform band wagon. Whether it was one or all of these factors, no doubt, the pendulum is swinging towards at least some downward reduction in sentencing grids. Finally, a small crack in the country’s three decades old “lock –them-up- and-throw-away -the- key” attitude.
Even in Kansas, if you listen carefully, you can hear the squeaking as conservative lawmakers begin to unlock their minds to the possibilities of sentencing reform. During the 2015 Legislative session, a bill to reduce the penalty for simple marijuana possession passed one chamber of the legislator, and people in the know seem optimistic about the bill’s passage in the 2016 session. Earlier this year in a grass-roots initiative, Wichita citizens voted to heavily reduce the penalty for first time arrest for less than a ounce of marijuana, but they were immediately hit with an injunction and a lawsuit from the Kansas Atty. General. While a ruling in that case is expected shortly, there’s a lot to write about on the Federal Level.
Well discuss what’s going on nationally and why so many people feel it’s time for change in a series of articles that being below.