The Daily Beast’s Abby Haglage has the story of a homeless man in Louisiana whose case demonstrates some of the worst extremes of the drug war.
Fate Vincent Winslow, a 41-year-old homeless black man, was hungry on September 5th, 2008. Along with a man he called “Perdue,” he was the target of a sting by an undercover cop pretending to look for marijuana and a prostitute. Although Perdue was never arrested, Winslow was.
Citing his previous non-violent felonies – a burglaries at age 17 and 26, and cocaine possession in 2004 – a judge sentenced him to life imprisonment with hard labor. This was a result of mandatory minimum sentencing laws which allowed the prosecution to seek such an extreme sentence.
Haglage quotes from Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow to explain the utter unfairness of these laws:
Last week, The New York Times published an article looking at a new coalition of groups, including the American Civil Libeties Union and right-wing FreedomWorks, that is coming together to reform the criminal justice system; it’s expected that mandatory minimums will be one of the laws they’ll take aim at.
MARCH 1, 2015