Abolish Mandatory Minimums
In a huge travesty, Marissa Alexander has been sentenced to a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison. Roland Martin writes on cnn.com:
If you are the most hardened law-and-order person in the world, even you should have some compassion for Alexander, the Jacksonville, Florida, woman who has been struck by the ridiculous Florida law known as 10-20-life.
The law requires anyone convicted of an aggravated assault when a firearm is discharged to serve a minimum of 20 years in prison with no regard to extenuating circumstances.
Alexander says that on August 1, 2010, her husband went into a rage and tried to strangle her after reading some text messages she sent to her ex-husband. She fled the family home, got to the garage and realized she didn't have her keys. Fearing for her life, she says she grabbed a gun and went back into the home to retrieve her keys.
She says her husband threatened to kill her, and to keep him at bay, she fired a warning shot into a wall.
Why was she charged, convicted and sentenced? Because State Attorney Angela Corey, the same prosecutor leading the Trayvon Martin case, said the gun was fired near a bedroom where two children were and they could have been injured.
Did the bullet hit the children? No. Did Alexander point the gun at her husband and hit him? No. She simply fired a warning shot, and according to Florida's shameful law, that's enough for a minimum 20-year sentence.
...The 10-20-life policy has no business in the laws of Florida or any other state.
Judges should have the discretion to consider a variety of factors in sentencing, and I have no doubt had this judge been given flexibility, Alexander wouldn't be going to prison for 20 years.
These types of injustices are common in our legal system, and it is necessary for everyone with a conscience to stand up and decry these so-called legislative remedies that end up as nightmares.
I blogged about this previously here.