Q. Patterson’s Thoughts on Abolishing Mandatory Minimums in Virginia

On paper, a mandatory minimum is a prescribed amount of time a person who has committed a specific crime MUST actively serve in prison, as opposed to what can be suspended by a judge or jury. The judicial device of mandatory minimum seems extremely arbitrary, due to the fact that their are two bodies (judge and jury) who, through a hands-on knowledge of the facts of the crime, can discern specialities of that particular crime and sentence accordingly. I do not understand the need for mandatory minimums as they are excessive, since descriptive sentencing guidelines exist.

They restrict the ability to sentence justly, being that no two crimes are identical, even though they may share the same charges. The presence of such a device, being that of mandatory minimums, can only leave room for corruptive and nefarious usage. For example, a police officer can threaten you with multiple charges carrying mandatory minimums, effective increasing prison time tremendously if found guilty, simply because you decide to invoke your right to an attorney during questioning, which in turn, makes their job investigating a little harder. This vindictive practice is common amongst law enforcement and is abetted by the law itself through the vessel of mandatory minimums.

I, myself, am a victim of this very practice. Police officers decided to charge me 3 use of a firearm charges (another controversial law enforcement practice referred to as charge-stacking), each carrying a mandatory minimum, 3 years for the initial UFA, and 5 years for each subsequent UFA charge. This comprises 13 years of a 15-year sentence… mandatory minimums should be removed from the courts and the power to impose fitting, fair sentences reinvested to the judges, as they should be.

– Q, 1/14/21

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