Video: MKH and O’Reilly go after each other on mandatory sentencing

posted at 8:38 pm on August 7, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

I won’t make a habit of posting my own video clips, but this made some news on other sites today, to my mild surprise.

I guess the disagreement among right-leaning figures on the drug war and mandatory sentencing is counterintuitive enough and the shouting lively enough that it caught people’s attention.

The seed of this discussion is a NYT editorial on mandatory sentencing requirements. Their argument is that mandatory sentencing, along with other federal prison programs, should be examined and reformed as part of cost savings, preventing overpopulation, and keeping the system sustainable. Would that the NYT (or any liberal) could look at every federal program with this in mind.

This segment doesn’t encompass my entire philosophy on the drug war, but I do tend to think mandatory sentencing requirements can get overzealous, ensnaring people as “drug traffickers” who might otherwise be helped instead of put in federal prison. I don’t want drug kingpins gaming the system any more than anyone else, but I would like to allow for flexibility for judges to prevent some of mandatory sentencing’s unintended consequences. For instance, a state law in Florida makes the possession of as few as seven pills of Oxy the trigger for a mandatory sentence of three years for drug trafficking, which could easily scoop up a non-violent user of Oxy whom society isn’t best served by throwing in prison.

I also think approaching lawmaking from the position of having recently lost a relative to drugs doesn’t make for the soundest public policy, which becomes relevant in this clip.

Anyway, figured y’all could hash it out in comments. The response I got on Twitter last night was more positive than I expected, with Tea Party folks almost uniformly showing their libertarian streaks on this issue, but the law-and-order crowd can take me to task below. I’m interested where our audience stands on this.

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