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Hamedah Hassan was an overall upstanding member of our society until she became a victim of her extenuating circumstances. When Hamedah was 21 years old, she made a brave choice to flee from an extremely abusive relationship with her two children. At the time, Hamedah’s only option was to seek refuge at her cousin’s house. However, Hamedah’s cousin was dealing crack cocaine and soon roped her into running errands for his drug business. After two years of being involved in the drug business, Hamedah decided to return to her hometown as she wanted to earn an honest living for herself and her children. Shortly after returning to her hometown, Hamedah was arrested. Despite having a clean record, a single offense—likely caused by desperation—resulted in a sentence of 27 years in prison for Hamedah. This was the minimum term under the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine-related convictions. She will not be part of her children’s lives for nearly three decades. Hamedah appealed her sentence to the highest courts to no avail. She is one of many victims paying the harsh price of the mandatory minimum penalty.

Anyone who has ever designed something knows the futility of attempting a one-size-fits-all approach; even one-size-fits-all clothing is at best fits most! If the one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work for something as minor as clothing, then why do we apply this model to our criminal justice system? Mandatory minimums force the justice system to apply a one-size-fits-all sentencing approach and disregard the circumstances of individual defendants which then results in flawed and unfair sentencing practices, racial disparity, and overcrowding caused by mass incarceration. Reform must be sought, and mandatory minimums should be reimagined to where it only applies to extremely violent and inhumane crimes.