Will mandatory minimum sentences be removed from the Nebraska Criminal Code?
Law enforcement and some prosecutors expressed their stern opposition to a bill tabled by a senator from Omaha which asks for the elimination of the minimum sentence that the judges currently have to impose for gun charges and when dealing with repeat offenders.
Defense attorneys were also present outside the mayor’s office to express their support for the bill. The bill, if passed, would also remove the mandatory imposition of minimum sentences when an accused is being charged for child pornography, drug peddling and narcotics use in school zones and criminals who have already been charged with two felonies.
Those in favor argued that although the tough on crime act may garner public support and even seems glamorous the fact that a minimum sentence has to be given actually limits the powers of the judge. For now, habitual offenders are mandatorily sentenced to ten years in prison if charged and found guilty of a third crime. The bill would also change the definition of habitual offender and would limit it to criminals who have two violent felonies to their name.
Although the Attorney general of Nebraska did not really have a problem with dropping the term “habitual offender”, he wants the 10 year mandatory sentence to stay as it proves to be a strong deterrent. Proponents of the bill said that the mandatory minimum sentence actually takes away hope and hence should be removed.