“Criminal sentencing has been in the headlines a lot lately, ever since the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Blakely v. Washington put into jepardy a system that has dramatically increased the safety of all Americans.” So said U.S. Attorney Sandy Mattice of Chattanooga, Tn., on www.chattanoogan.com. U.S. Attorney Leonard Rapidas of Guam and the Northern Marianas used almost the same language in an article for Guam’s Pacific Daily News. Both articles, citing lowered national crime rates declare that “tough sentencing works.”
Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, this week found four virtually identical articles, supposedly written by different U.S. Attorneys, backing mandatory minimum sentences. Besides Tennessee and Guam, they have appeared in Iowa and Oklahoma. FAMM president Julie Stewart called the practice of federal prosecutors’ submitting identical articles to the media “sleazy.” Stewart said the effort shows that the Bush administration doesn’t have “respectable people [outside the Justice Department] to support mandatory minimums.” Noting that federal cases account for a tiny minority of crimes nationwide, Stewart disputed the idea that federal mandatory minimums have an impact on the crime rate.