As an Omaha drug attorney, Daniel Stockmann’s clients routinely have concerns that Nebraska’s mandatory minimum sentences will land them behind bars. Although Mr. Stockmann’s track record and demeanor quickly alleviates these fears, it’s perfectly understandable that they’d have worries, considering that Nebraska is one of the few states that does apply these harsh consequences. However, two recent bills brought before the Nebraska Legislature has many wondering if mandatory minimum sentences might be coming to an end in the state.
Judges May Gain the Power to Ignore Mandatory Minimum Requirements
Senator Ernie Chambers introduced a bill that would eliminate the mandatory minimum sentences for 1D and 1C felonies. Current mandatory minimum sentencing ties the judge’s hands, meaning that even when he feels the sentence may be too severe or that the defendant is deserving of leniency, if found guilty, the judge is still legally bound to impose the mandatory minimum sentence.
Former county attorney, Senator Paul Schumacher pointed out that before mandatory minimum sentences went into effect, sentencing was often at the discretion of the judge. But now, says Schumacher, the judges no longer have that option. Schumacher’s bill proposes to have a three-judge panel to review each case individually to decide if the mandatory minimum sentence is appropriate. The review panel would be made up of the sentencing judge and two judges selected by the Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice.
The Effectiveness of Mandatory Minimum Sentences is in Question
While strict minimum sentencing may have its proponents, there are still many that say that this type of sentencing for nonviolent crimes is not only ineffectual but may also cause more harm than good. According to Chambers, imposing these mandatory sentences offers no incentives for prisoners to behave, which in turn could put prison guards and other inmates at risk. In a report by the Federal Judicial Center (FJC), findings show that since 1985, 70% of prison growth, nationwide, has been due to a rise in drug sentences, many of these for low-level, nonviolent crimes. The irony is that many of these prisoners are still sitting behind bars serving time for offenses that are no longer crimes in some states. In Colorado, for example, it is now legal to possess, grow and sell marijuana.
Repeal of Mandatory Minimums Could Save Thousands in Taxpayer Dollars
Should Chamber’s and Schumacher’s bills pass, it would also save Nebraska thousands in taxpayer dollars and alleviate some of the state’s overcrowded prisons. According to a 2014 study by the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, Nebraska’s prisons were about 57% over capacity, meaning they were holding approximately 1,900 more inmates than their designed capacity. Further findings showed that more than 1,000 nonviolent offenders a year are winding up in state prisons rather than taking part in probation and rehabilitation programs, which would not only be far less costly and help to alleviate prison overcrowding but would also give offenders a chance for a productive life.
Speak with an Omaha Drug Attorney Today
If these bills pass it may mean a brighter future for those finding themselves on the wrong side of the law for seemingly minor or nonviolent crimes. However, for now, the mandatory minimum sentences are still in effect and you may face harsh consequences if not adequately represented in court. Omaha drug attorney Daniel Stockmann has been serving the area for nearly two decades and understands how much is at stake for his clients, which is why he provides custom defense strategies and one-on-one attention. To reserve your free consultation with Mr. Stockmann, call (844) 906-0641 today.