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Contrary to public perception, prosecutors do not "coerce" or "threaten" otherwise innocent people to plead guilty using mandatory minimum sentences. "Mandatory minimums," as they are called, are minimum terms of imprisonment for specific offenses imposed by statute instead of a judge. Judge John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York joined the chorus of critics in an October 2013 court statement, when he said that "[p]rosecutors routinely threaten ultra-harsh, enhanced mandatory sentences that no one - not even the prosecutors themselves - thinks are appropriate." Of course, some federal prosecutors do act badly - lazily, unfairly, unethically and even criminally. Prosecutors can act badly in all phases of the criminal justice process including during plea negotiations. But we need to stop the false narrative related to the prosecutor's evil use of mandatory minimums.


This article appeared in The Daily Journal, Dec. 19, 2013. Posted with permission.

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