As an assistant U.S. attorney in his native Detroit, Mark Osler sent drug dealers to prison with long mandatory minimum sentences. Now, as a University of St. Thomas School of Law professor, Osler, with a half-dozen students, is working to commute the kind of prison sentence he once championed, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I believed in harsh sentences and that it would help stop (drug trafficking),” said Osler, who three years ago started the nation’s first federal sentence commutation clinic at St. Thomas. “Over time, I realized it didn’t.”
Osler has little sympathy for drug dealers. And he bristles at the notion that drug trafficking is a victimless crime. He has seen firsthand the devastation the drug trade has wrought in mostly poor and urban communities throughout Motown and other areas across the nation. He also is concerned about the use of federal sentencing laws strictly based on drug weight and the collateral damage it has brought on nonviolent federal drug offenders, their families and the community in general.