Too many locked up unfairly [Letter]

December 29, 2013

Our ridiculous, mandatory sentencing in drug matters not only destroys lives, it costs the taxpayers a fortune ("A misguided drug policy," Dec. 23). And it's not just the racial discrimination rampant in crack and powder cocaine offenses that needs to concern us.

I also became aware of this cruelty in a case involving shotgun shells, and there was no bias perceived. The requirement of a presidential pardon to commute the life sentence of a woman incarcerated for hiding her boyfriend's stash of crack demonstrates the injustice of these mandatory minimum statutes.

It's easy to see such sentencing as racially motivated, but we need to look further. Our prison system has become a nationwide "gulag archipelago" and a disgrace. Incarcerating as many as possible is big business and an enormous taxpayer burden. Americans appear to care about human rights violations everywhere except here at home.

This damage to human potential is staggering and the suffering of innocent families horrifying. The United States locks up too many people way too long. It's time citizens of the "Land of the Free" spoke out against this travesty!

Roz Heid, Baltimore

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