Idaho Dispatch

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Op-Ed: Idaho Doubles Down on Gross Injustice

By • January 21, 2024

Idaho House Bill 406 is one of the most grossly unjust and terribly drafted pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen. It will classify individuals as drug traffickers based on simple possession of even tiny trace amounts of a drug and send them to prison for decades with no possibility of early release.

There is already a gross imbalance favoring state power over the rights of individuals who are charged with crimes, and bills like this only tilt things further in favor of the state.

You can read a detailed analysis of House Bill 406 HERE.

Injustice prevails in the American “justice” system largely because prosecutors and their minions craft laws capable of totally destroying the lives of anyone they target. Instead of putting in the work to actually prove intent to distribute, prosecutors just write a law to redefine simple possession as “trafficking.”

Instead of making the case that possessing trace amounts of a drug actually merits 20 years of incarceration, prosecutors will write a law that makes the sentence automatic and bars judges from intervening — no matter how egregious a miscarriage of justice a given sentence might be.

Just look at how far House Bill 406 goes to prevent conscientious judges from taking action to protect defendants from excessive sentencing.

“Adjudication of guilt or the imposition or execution of sentence shall not be suspended, deferred, or withheld, nor shall such person be eligible for parole prior to serving the mandatory minimum fixed term of imprisonment prescribed in this section. Further, the court shall not retain jurisdiction.”

Perhaps the worst part is that none of this is accidental or the inadvertent byproduct of some noble ambition. It is the intentional automation of injustice by a cynical cabal of highly paid government attorneys who covet the power to destroy people’s lives based on nothing more than flimsy assertions and circumstantial evidence.

The state of Idaho (and the whole country) desperately needs comprehensive criminal justice reform, and this starts with eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, decriminalizing victimless crimes across the board, focusing on restorative justice for those crimes with an actual victim, and requiring prosecutors to prove both the facts of the case and criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

This Op-Ed was submitted by Parrish Miller and originally published on Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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Tags: 2024 Idaho Legislature, Drugs, Fentanyl, HO406, House Bill 406, Idaho Chiefs of Police Association, Idaho Freedom Foundation Index, Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, Parrish Miller, Tracy Basterrechea

19 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Idaho Doubles Down on Gross Injustice

  1. Idaho does NOT need, “Mandatory Sentencing”.
    Idaho needs Conservative Judges that get the job done.
    Note: One size does not fit all.

  2. AGREED == one size fits all is about as unfair as things get! There needs to be discretion based on specific facts of EACH CASE. There is NO JUSTICE with a One Size Fits All sentencing system.

  3. Victimless crimes what morons who is the victim when the druggies rob an steal from you and the stores? Who is the victim when the druggies take over public land ? Whom is the victim when we see the hoards of Zombie like brain dead from the drugs the use?

    1. Agreed, using the term ‘victimless crime’ makes this entire article laughable. This guy needs to look at Oregon’s insanity, their cities (Portland, Eugene etc.) are cesspools due to this kind of socialist thinking.
      Trafficking in fentanyl should have mandatory minimum sentences, that poison is killing people regularly. Most police don’t even mess with small amounts of marijuana anymore, and yes, I believe pot should stay illegal in Idaho!
      In the world of parole, most small amount drug violations aren’t even brought to the police.
      This guy needs to quit his hysterics on a subject he’s obviously clueless about.

  4. Druggies are druggies. If they are caught with amount of deadly drugs that can harm
    Others that’s when they need put away. BETTER YET how about we put away or ship away illegal IMMIGRANTS ??????????? Start there, and the PROBLEM will subside !

  5. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time! One study found that the average drug dealer in today’s world of Fentanyl contributed to the deaths of aproximity 50 individuals. The study also showed the life span of a dealer was a little over 18 months before being incarcerated or found dead from their own product. The study focuses most of it’s attention on street level dealers as I believe they were probably the easiest to compile data on. So based on this report each dealer basically will or has killed 50 individuals in 18 months. Now do you really want to go easy on these peddlers of death?

    1. This allows a corrupt govt agent to place a small amount of a substance in your possession (YOU, not someone else) and basically end your life. More govt power is ALWAYS a huge mistake.

  6. While I appreciate the author’s passion, he nevertheless makes several serious errors in his arguments. There is no such thing as a “victimless” crime. Criminal laws by definition label society as the victim in addition to any specific individuals harmed. That can easily be supported by noting any deleterious effects the accused’s actions have on society in general such as a decrease in public safety or the forced use of taxpayer funds to deal with the resulting issues.

    People who traffick in drugs are already destroying the lives of others. And those who are addicted have already had their lives destroyed and likely the lives of family members. And yet the author wants to sweep all this under the rug.

    I have a sister-in-law who adopted two boys from a drug-addicted mother. Those two boys are now in high school and both are seriously impaired as a result of their mother’s actions: neither has a sense of right vs wrong. And despite everything my sister-in-law and her husband have done, they can’t fix these two boys – two victims of a supposedly “victimless” crime.

    No. There is no such thing. Do addicts deserve our compassion? Yes. And sometimes that means involuntary incarceration. Do dealers deserve our compassion just because they were only caught with “a little bit?” Not in my opinion. Crime largely happens because the penalty for getting caught isn’t high enough.

    1. We have got to realize the danger of the potency of the marijuana marketed today, high levels of THC and also laced with Fentanyl. It is infiltrating the “legal sales” with hidden and overlooked production farms. Also providing money to the state as sales tax, is making it a low law enforcement priority. Corruption at all levels creeps in leading to further social instability. “Give an inch they will take a mile” is obviously at work in America.

  7. I thank Parrish for his position and it is well stated here. Although there is a lot to cover and he did cover quite a bit, I think there are a few more perspectives to cover, I think I will save that for the following article stating law enforcement’s position. I see several opinions here that seem to make it clearer that many people that proclaim liberty, have little to no concerpt of law, rights, inherent abuses of govenrment or the inconsistencies of their worldview. How can one be libertarian for example and support more govenrment power not only as a libertarian but one that cliams to love this country and its constitution that limits government, NOT PEOPLE! Silly Neocons, liberty is for those that understand it.

    1. We have the ability to recovery civil penalties from people and businesses who sell products that seriously damage or kill, yet there is no right of action against people who literally kill other human beings by selling drugs. If someone wants to engage in commerce of a substance that is known to kill, they deserve the death penalty themselves.

  8. Drugs are getting more lethal, not less.
    Methods and targeting of distribution are becoming more creative and pervasive
    People use drugs for a wide variety of reasons
    Actions have consequences.

  9. 4 grams of fentanyl is the equivalent of 2,000 possible overdose deaths. It only takes 2 milligrams of fentanyl to kill someone. Screw mandatory sentences and initiate the death penalty for traffickers who have decided to deal death to others.

  10. Idaho is establishing itself as one of the last sane jurisdictions in the United States, and western world, when it comes to drug use and drug sales. While I understand the libertarian concern regarding increased government power, the simple fact is drugs are destructive and if allowed to proliferate, will destroy the enjoyable and liable civil society libertarians enjoy. Unfortunately for libertarians, small L, their purity test will always lead to a dystopian society. Libertarians should also consider Oregon as the closest example to enacting their hands-off approach to drug laws. No thanks.

  11. Then don’t do it in Idaho!! If you don’t like the laws here, move back to California or where ever you came from!
    Food for Thought:
    If you drive down the freeway at 100mph. You know the speed limit is 80 mph but you CHOOSE not to obey the speed laws, knowing full well you may get stopped by law enforcement. You get stopped and cited or arrested, is it the laws fault YOU CHOSE not to obey the law or is it the drivers fault.
    Tell me what positive impacts drugs have had anywhere. Every state that has legalized drugs are basically crap holes per se: Calif, Oregon, Washington (both of them) just to name a few. We dont want Idaho to become one of those crap holes. Idaho has strength and integrity and we want it to stay that way. I 100% support THESE LAW.

  12. In order for a crime to occur, there has to be a victim. Victims can be people, juridical persons, businesses or corporations. And the notion of trafficking is a specific criminal identifier within the primary statute. Adjudication, to be in the interest of justice, should address the victim first. I worked for County Sheriff, Juvenile Detentions and State Prison in two different States. I see primarily what impact these offenses have on society as well as individuals and families, of which are already being destroyed by other things, such as the destruction of the very notion of family per se. Personally, I don’t care if someone wants to use or misuse alcohol or drugs, I really don’t. But when it reaches the inner and outer boundaries of society, I do care. To a certain extent, drugs and alcohol abuse result from larger problems that run deeper in our cultures, and should get equal if not more attention. Chemical abuse is at best, a symptom. There is an amount of human shortcoming in all of this. Drug and alcohol usage has a progressive aspect, which supports the notion that if it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse. When that occurs, nothing good comes of it, and nobody wins.

  13. One of the biggest issues we have today in the United States is a two-tier justice system where criminals get wildly varied sentences depending on your political affiliation and/or race. It is a disgusting practice.
    After seeing the effects of weak enforcement of laws, light sentencing, and creation of laws which protect criminals, I have had enough personally.
    I am not of the opinion that all violent felonies (including rape, incest, and child sex crimes) get the death penalty automatically to be carried out after no more than a two-year appeal period. All non-violent felonies (including all drug offenses) get life in prison with no parole. Remaining crimes get the maximum sentence possible with the possibility of parole only after half the sentence has been served.
    This is what happens when society becomes weak and pathetic, and we have. I personally have no more time or patience for weak people and weak government.

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