Sentencing

Prison Sentence Teaches Former Police Chief How Awful Mandatory Minimums Are

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Why not just end the drug war entirely?

Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik served three years in federal prison for tax fraud. Upon release he gave an interview to the Today show as he embarked on a new crusade informed by his experiences: Fighting against mandatory minimums. Politico breaks down the interview:

"These young men, they come into the prison system. First-time, non-violent offense, a low-level drug offense: The system is supposed to help them. Not destroy them," Kerik said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show that aired on Friday.

Kerik criticized the federal mandatory minimum system for putting people away for 10 years for 5 grams of cocaine, handing NBC's Matt Lauer a nickel.

"When I came into the system, I didn't realize it's a nickel. Hold it. Do you feel the weight of it? Feel it?" Kerik said. "I had no idea that for 5 grams of cocaine, which is what that nickel weighs, you could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. … That's insane."

As a former police commissioner, Kerik said "no one in the history of our country" has served prison time with his background, and that you have to be behind bars to understand what it's like "to be a victim of the system."

That's a brilliant idea! We should put more law enforcement officials and politicians behind bars for a couple of years.

The interview can be watched here.

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