Why Do We Oppose Mandatory Minimum Sentences?

 Posted on March 08, 2012 in Uncategorized

Meanwhile, crime victim advocate Joe Wamback, a Newmarket resident and former federal Conservative candidate, supports the omnibus legislation. His son, Jonathan, was beaten into a coma in 1999.The Smickle ruling is "the reason we need minimum sentencing in our legislation", he said.Defence lawyers who criticize mandatory minimum sentences are in a conflict of interest, he argued, since they derive their income from repeatedly representing people accused of a crime."Put them away and (the lawyer) doesn't have to defend him a third, fourth and fifth time," he said.

(, h/t Toronto criminal-defense lawyer Edward Prutschi.)

This is utterly loopy. Where there are mandatory minima, criminal-defense lawyers make more money because defendants are under more pressure to fight their cases, and therefore willing to pay bigger fees for better defenses. Third, fourth, and fifth offenders are usually indigent.

Criminal-defense lawyers' vocal opposition to mandatory minima (as well as to the war on drugs) is against the lawyers' naked self-interest. Why would criminal-defense lawyers oppose criminal-justice policies that make lawyers lots and lots of money? Because the policies are wrong.

(I think that a lot of people can't conceive of lawyers acting against their own self-interest. More's the pity.)

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