Myth One: Our prison population is exploding because of the incarceration of
recreational drug users or low-level drug offenders.
Fact: Our federal prison population is not exploding, and those who are serving prison sentences for drug crimes are incarcerated because of drug trafficking crimes, not recreational drug use.
Myth Two: The federal prison population is a product of mandatory minimum
sentences for drug traffickers.
Fact: The majority of drug traffickers sentenced in federal court are not being
sentenced pursuant to mandatory minimum sentences.
Myth Three: Only violent drug dealers deserve lengthy prison sentences.
Fact: It is well-established drug trafficking is inherently violent and that all drug
dealing is dangerous taking the lives of thousands of Americans, destroying families, and undermining the moral fabric of our communities, regardless of whether any individual offender engages in an act of violence during the commission of a drug offense.
Myth Four: Federal mandatory minimum sentences are arbitrary; their reduction will
result in greater fairness and do little to disturb public safety.
Fact: Slashing federal mandatory minimum sentences will undermine the ability of law enforcement officials to dismantle drug trafficking organizations.
Myth Five: Minimum sentences for drug dealers should be reduced because drug
sentences have a disparate impact on minorities.
Fact: High-level drug trafficking is not committed by any group that mirrors the
nation’s demographics in terms of age, gender, or race and prosecutions can’t be expected to parallel those demographics.
Myth Six: Reducing the sentences for drug dealers will reduce our taxes.
Fact: It’s easier to quantify the costs of incarceration than the value of public safety.
They go on to explain, in detail, how the world will come to an end if every “drug trafficker” (they’re all traffickers. They’re always traffickers) isn’t locked away forever. It’s well worth reading the white paper to have a deeper appreciation of how insipid their arguments, how colored their perspective and how self-serving their position is.
On the other hand, if you fear doped-up hippies breaking into your home at night and raping your children, you may find it slightly persuasive.
Inspired by this effort, I too join in the mythbusting business:
Myth: The NAAUSA’s position on the Smarter Sentencing Act is well grounded in fact and puts the safety of Americans ahead of the convenience of using draconian sentences and mandatory minimums to coerce pleas and cooperation from defendants.
My work here is done. If you need more detail, then you haven’t been paying attention.
Update: Fordham lawprof John Pfaff has put together a storify to bust the mythological myths that are and aren’t at all mythological. Or as the slogan of the NAAUSA says, “we don’t need no stinkin’ facts.”