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Federal Minimum Sentencing Guidelines36:17
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photoThis week, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell said he had no choice but to follow prevailing sentencing guidelines for drug convictions when he imposed a 55-year sentence on a first-time 25-year-old offender who sold marijuana to a police informant in 2002. Cassell urged the defendant's lawyer to appeal but it is unlikely an appeal would succeed.

Many federal judges criticize the current federal minimum sentencing guidelines passed during George H. W. Bush's presidency as having removed their discretion to consider each case on its own merits.

Hear about the genesis of the minimum sentence laws and impending U.S. Supreme Court action that will examine the constitutionality of these laws.

Guests:

Steven Henderson, Supreme Court correspondent for Knight Ridder

Paul Lay, senior judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Douglas Berman, law professor at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

John Knodell, prosecutor in Washington State, handled the Blakely vs Washington case and supports federal sentencing guidelines

This program aired on November 19, 2004.

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