The law is ironclad and unambiguous: commit an armed robbery in Georgia and you're going to prison for 10 years minimum. Except, that is, if you can make a deal, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing one defendant who got a deal for 5 years in prison and other sentenced to 12 years–the latter didn’t even hold a gun. The prosecutor holds all the cards: One district attorney may choose to plead a case down, while another district attorney will go for the mandatory minimum on a less egregious case.
“We have 49 district attorneys in Georgia and each has his or her own sentencing philosophy and enormous power to dictate what crime their defendants will be convicted of and what sentence will be imposed,” said Stephen Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights. “And there's no consistency between what one prosecutor's approach is as opposed to another,” he said. “So we don't have a system of equal justice. We have a system of arbitrary justice.” A proposed bill would give some flexibility to the now-inflexible sentences for a number of serious felonies, including armed robbery and certain sex crimes. If a prosecutor and a defense attorney reach an agreement, the judge could sentence a defendant to a prison term below the mandatory minimum.