Anyone in South Carolina who has been following the efforts of those trying to reform the criminal justice system will know that mandatory sentencing is one thing that often comes under scrutiny and attack. More and more, advocates are asserting that mandatory minimum sentences or even mandatory maximum sentences should be eliminated. The reason for this point of view is that these laws prevent individual judges from using their discretion and, in a way, from acting as true judges.
Some reform of criminal laws has been happening and that has included changes to mandatory sentencing laws. Guidelines may be put into effect in lieu of strict requirements for certain crimes. However, the mandatory sentencing laws remain in place relative to a host of offenses. One man who has gained a high level of notoriety over the past few decades was recently sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison based on these laws, at least in part.
The New York Times has reported that a drug cartel leader from Mexico was convicted in February of 2019 on 10 different criminal counts. The offenses included murder, money laundering and drug crimes. The required time in prison for all of the offenses that he was convicted of was a life sentence and an additional 30 years. That is exactly what he received.
The defendant indicated at his sentencing hearing that he believed he was denied a fair trial. It is possible that his convictions and sentence may be challenged in a subsequent appeal but that is not known at this time.