In an article for the New York Times, prominent rape accuser Alexandra Brodsky and fellow Yale Law student Claire Simonich express outrage over a recent sentencing in California, but suggests not instituting a mandatory minimum law in response.
On this point, I agree with Brodsky and Simonich. Many people are outraged that Brock Turner received a light sentence after being convicted of intent to rape and penetration with a foreign object. But a knee-jerk reaction to prevent future cases from turning out the same way may not be a good idea.
As Brodsky and Simonich point out, mandatory minimums have been a failure in preventing drug crimes.
"Unfortunately, mandatory minimums have proved a failed experiment, contributing to prison overcrowding, racial imbalances and overly punitive sentences — all without, studies show, reducing crime," the two wrote.
Scott Greenfield, an attorney and due-process advocate, agreed on his own blog about mandatory minimums, but also included some critiques of Brodsky and Simonich's reasoning.
"Mandatory minimums are a legal and societal nightmare, even if not for the reasons dancing around in your fantasy. As for victims deserving a new solution, one sentence with which you disagree isn't a cause for systemic upheaval and another dive down the rabbit hole," Greenfield wrote. "Be infuriated all you want, but an outcome with which you disagree for one victim doesn't justify disastrous systemic change, no matter how many tears you cry."
The reasons Greenfield is referring to are Brodsky and Simonich's claim that mandatory minimums were instituted to keep "white men with access to expensive lawyers" from receiving lighter sentences "than minorities and poor people charged with the same crimes."
Not so, says Greenfield, as mandatory minimums were instituted for drug crimes and "Drug dealers weren't white men, and drug dealers had tons of money and access to the most expensive lawyers available."
If mandatory minimums were instituted for sex assault crimes, sex assault wouldn't stop or even be deterred. Mandatory minimums, combined with the current hysteria surrounding the issue that has resulted in witch hunts on college campuses, might lead to more innocent people going to jail for non-crimes. Like any young man who has been accused by a vindictive ex, or students accused after an accuser cheated on her boyfriend. Or any of the other numerous reasons dubious accusations have been brought forth.
Knee-jerk reactions to things never turn out well, because when we think we're fixing one injustice, we're just creating more.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.