How would you feel if you committed a minor crime but had to have a prison sentence because of a mandatory minimum in your state? It may seem unfair to be grouped with others who have done much more terrible things than you, and that’s what the state of Colorado is considering now. With this change, your attorney could, potentially, be able to fight for a minimized sentence, and without mandatory minimums in place, you could even find yourself on probation or doing community service instead of serving time.
A new state bill being discussed now could get rid of mandatory minimums, giving judges the ability to determine a person’s penalties without having to abide by minimum sentencing guidelines that tie their hands. If the bill passes, it could also mean that some people who committed violent crimes could be eligible for parole, although it’s debatable as to whether or not that’s a bad thing. Some people could be serving sentences that are unfair, while others have committed worse crimes with lesser sentences.
Opponents of the bill think it will make cases too varied in the state; one judge could make a different sentencing decision than another without the minimum sentencing guidelines. However, it would also give that judge the ability to base his or her decision on the case, not on standard penalties.
Mandatory minimum sentences were designed to correct inequities in the system; in the past, two people who committed the same crime could get widely different penalties. At the same time, that meant judges had discretion to change a sentence for someone who didn’t deserve such a harsh penalty.
Source: KLFY News, “Colorado state bill would get rid of mandatory minimum sentences,” Feb. 22, 2016