The Senate has advanced a bill that would reduce “Mandatory Minimum” sentences for minor drug charges, a positive step forward after decades of backwards drug policy in the US. Mike Papantonio and Peter Mougey discuss this.


Mike Papantonio: Senate has advanced a bill that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug cases. That’s a positive step forward after decades, really, of backwards drug policy in the US. Peter, I know that you’re probably going to have the same reaction that I have to this story. Okay, here it is.

They’re throwing people in prison for 20 years. I mean, you know, minimum sentences of 20 years. Some sentences life to 25. Now, let’s talk about what the sentences are. They’re felony drug sentencing, okay? Now that means you selling drugs on a street corner, or you’re a runner for a drug comp-, you know, so whatever it may be, you’re hit three times, two times actually-

Peter Mougey: Life.

Mike Papantonio: Life, you could be looking at life. So somebody in Congress said, “Really? We’re filling up our prisons. We don’t even have enough room for people in prisons now because of this.”

Peter Mougey: [inaudible 00:00:58]

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, so tell me what the changes would look like.

Peter Mougey: The changes are, it’s a comprehensive review of the whole criminal justice system, which is the big sweeping change. But I think what you’re seeing is quite frankly, it’s not far enough, so it’s … Let me see if I can get this right, the minimum sentence from 20 years to 15 for individuals who have a previous serious drug felony conviction, or serious violence. That’s 20 to 15, and the next threshold that’s reduced is the minimum of a life sentence to 25 years for individuals who were previously convicted of two or more felony drug offenses. That’s the “Three strikes, you’re out.” But that’s felony drug offenses.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Peter Mougey: I mean, that could mean you have a possession over a certain amount [crosstalk 00:01:43]

Mike Papantonio: Over a certain amount. It’s not like it’s a [crosstalk 00:01:46]

Peter Mougey: Three times.

Mike Papantonio: No violence involved. [crosstalk 00:01:47]

Peter Mougey: And with zero [crosstalk 00:01:46] [inaudible 00:01:46]

Mike Papantonio: And what’s so interesting is, the test is, they call it “The serious drug felony.”

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: That’s totally subjective. A judge can determine this is serious because you were, you know, four ounces above what you should have been. Three times, you’re looking at potential life sentence, and this is … Now, now, interesting thing, here you are running the national case in opioids [crosstalk 00:02:10]

Peter Mougey: That’s a good point.

Mike Papantonio: Against these legalized drug cartel types. They’re not talking to them about going to prison, they’ve caused more addiction in this country than ever. Jeff Sessions is our here saying, “Oh, I don’t want any sentencing reform. I like the idea of life-”

Peter Mougey: He called it “A grave error.”

Mike Papantonio: A grave error to have the type of sentencing reduction we’re talking about. Now on the other side of it, you’ve got Cardinal, you’ve got McKesson, you’ve got Amerisource, you have Perdue, that are nothing short of drug cartel criminals. [crosstalk 00:02:47]

Peter Mougey: To that end- [crosstalk 00:02:47]

Mike Papantonio: So there’s no sentencing there, who’s going to prison for them?

Peter Mougey: Oh, abs-, and take it a step further, right now the DEA and Session’s office, the Department of Justice, is were trying to get in that litigation, the ARCOS database, which shows where the holes are, where all the diversion is. Session’s office is delaying the production of that data that’s the road map around the country about where the problems are, and he won’t produce it, yeah this is a grave error.

Mike Papantonio: So in other words, the same little freak, Jeff Sessions, saying “Oh we don’t want to change any kind of sentencing, we want the kid that’s selling dope on the corner spend life-” [crosstalk 00:03:22]

Peter Mougey: Let’s call it what it is, the white guys wearing suits and the eight-figure salaries, walk free, no oversight. The guy on the street corner wearing a hoodie is going to jail for 30 years.

Mike Papantonio: Real quick, is there any question, now I was a prosecutor, I don’t know if you didn’t come up as a prosecutor-

Peter Mougey: I didn’t, I didn’t.

Mike Papantonio: … I can tell you, the facts that I know, the facts that you’ve let me, that I’m aware of because of you, because of the work you’ve done on this case. There’s zero question, that I could have every one of those people prosecuted and put in prison for life. But you know what? Little Jeff Sessions, he ain’t interested in that. He’s interested in, as he puts it, “This grave error of sentence reduction.”

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.