Read Scott Greenfield’s post entitled The Pendulum and the Mule. It discusses the extremely low sentences drug mules are getting when they get caught at JFK airport over which the Eastern District of New York has jurisdiction. One Eastern District Judge said “This is virtually, you know, a slap on the wrist.” Scott seems to think this might be a good thing.
The judges’ rationale seems to be that the federal courts in the Eastern District of New York don’t want to be clogged with “silly” low level drug cases. What?
Aside from the fact that it is not their job to decide who to prosecute, one can hardly describe Eastern District federal judges as overworked when it comes to their criminal dockets. For example, the Eastern District of New York ranks
last in the nation for criminal cases 75th out of 94 federal courts for federal felonies. See here.
We get tons and tons of mules on I-80 and they find their way into our modest little federal court. Maybe I should consider that long stretch of concrete as a giant JFK. I don’t want silly low level mule cases. I know better than DOJ who should be prosecuted. I don’t care about unwarranted sentencing disparity caused by judges doing their own thing. After all, I live in “fly over” country and everybody knows that I know best out here where not too many years ago we frequently saw real mules. That’s the ticket!
PS Scott also writes:
Though, before they get too down on the mules for their sweet deals, it would behoove the judges to remember that these aren’t people living in palaces built on foundations of cocaine in lush island resorts. Their lives were awful enough before they were enticed to take a terrible chance to put food on their family’s tables.
Their lives are punishment, and it serves no constructive interest to deprive their children of food so that they can be warehoused by the government to send a message. People with hungry children already have a message, and it’s more important to them than any message a judge thinks he’s sending, regardless of the sentencing paradigm.
There is no question that some mules deserve gentle treatment because they are caught up in a world over which they have little control. That is a world of real horror. I am not so sure that this is true for most mules, however.