PNS National Newscast

Audio Activation
"Siri, play the Public News Service (podcast)"
"Hey Google, play the Public News Service podcast"
"Alexa, play Public News Service podcast"
or "Alexa, what's my news flash?" once you set it up in the Alexa app

2020Talks

Audio Activation
"Siri, play the 2020Talks podcast"
"Hey Google, play the 2020Talks podcast"
"Alexa, play Two-Thousand-Twenty Talks podcast"
or "Alexa, what's my news flash?" once you set it up in the Alexa app

Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - August 13, 2020 


Minutes after Biden selected Harris as VP, she throws first punch at Trump; teachers raise their hands with safety concerns.


2020Talks - August 13, 2020 


Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their first public appearance and running mates. President Trump called Georgia's Marjorie Taylor Greene a GOP "star," despite her support for baseless conspiracy theory QAnon.

Test Case Tackles Commonwealth's Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The future of mandatory minimum sentencing is now in the hands of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. (Swampyank/English Wikipedia)
The future of mandatory minimum sentencing is now in the hands of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. (Swampyank/English Wikipedia)
April 11, 2016

BOSTON - It is now up to the state's highest court to determine whether a judge in a drug case can impose a sentence lower than the mandatory minimum under state law.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments last week.

ACLU of Massachusetts legal director Matt Segal argues that judges can depart from mandatory minimum sentences because of a 1996 state law that created a legal safety valve.

"And in Massachusetts, this safety valve permits judges in cases involving mitigating facts to impose sentences below the mandatory minimum, and here there were mitigating facts," says Segal.

The case at issue is Commonwealth v. Laltaprasad.

Segal says the judge in that case was right in giving the defendant a lesser sentence, because he possessed only a small amount of drugs and was facing major health problems at the time of the offense.

The state argued the judge should not be allowed to depart from the mandated minimum drug sentence because the state Legislature failed to pass needed guidelines.

Segal says there are no studies that show mandatory minimum sentences deter drug abuse, but plenty of evidence to show that they lead to terrible outcomes.

"Year after year in Massachusetts, more than 70 percent of mandatory minimum sentences are applied to people of color, even though people of color make up a far lower percentage of the population and even though they possess and distribute drugs at far lower rates than 70 percent of the population," says Segal. "So, these mandatory minimum sentences have turned into tools of discrimination."

The ACLU is representing the defendant. More than 40 local organizations are supporting the reduced sentence and many filed friend-of-the-court briefs.

They include the American Friends Service Committee, Jobs Not Jails and Arise Social Justice. A decision is expected early this summer.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA