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YOUR THREE CENTS: Do you support or oppose mandatory minimum sentences?
Concerns about the fairness and the costs of mandatory minimum sentences have been growing in Congress.
Now the issue is gaining speed as an unusual coalition of Tea Party conservatives and liberal Democrats are pushing for the largest overhaul of federal sentencing guidelines yet.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing on mandatory minimum sentences on Wednesday.
The committee is considering two bills which would allow judges to waive the mandatory minimums in many circumstances, particularly for some drug crimes.
The hearing is the first step in legislation that advocates and lawmakers in both parties say stands a chance of winning enactment by the end of the year.
Supporters of mandatory minimums say they deter crime.
Opponents say they improperly shift sentencing discretion from a judge to a prosecutor.... and cost taxpayers much more than effective treatment in drug cases.
Critics also say cases vary greatly... and sentences should be considered on a case by case basis instead.
The American Bar Association has been calling for a repeal of mandatory minimums since 2004.
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