How a Salt Lake City drug dealer's 55-year sentence inspired Utah Sen. Mike Lee to change America's criminal justice system

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  • Akman Santaquin, UT
    Jan. 15, 2019 2:36 p.m.

    Next time , because there will most likely (71% chance) be a next time, When this convicted armed drug dealer decides to shoot a police officer rather than go back to jail, let’s see how many politicians will be standing around to shake his hand.

    Police deal with armed criminals, maybe if the criminals could take their guns into the locked down safe space of the court room,or onto the floor of congress maybe they would see the side of the criminal they have the luxury of dismissing.

    He did ten years i hope no one sheds a tear for that or now feels compelled to give him a million dollars for his suffering. What was the gun for anyway? Oh, in case he runs into an armed drug dealer. Non police officers will never know what it’s like encountering real time real world dangersand face to face confrontation with lawless people.

  • Akman Santaquin, UT
    Jan. 15, 2019 2:35 p.m.

    Next time , because there will most likely (71% chance) be a next time, When this convicted armed drug dealer decides to shoot a police officer rather than go back to jail, let’s see how many politicians will be standing around to shake his hand.

    Police deal with armed criminals, maybe if the criminals could take their guns into the locked down safe space of the court room,or onto the floor of congress maybe they would see the side of the criminal they have the luxury of dismissing.

    He did ten years i hope no one sheds a tear for that or now feels compelled to give him a million dollars for his suffering. What was the gun for anyway? Oh, in case he runs into an armed drug dealer. Non police officers will never know what it’s like encountering real time real world dangersand face to face confrontation with lawless people.

  • Akman Santaquin, UT
    Jan. 15, 2019 2:35 p.m.

    Next time , because there will most likely (71% chance) be a next time, When this convicted armed drug dealer decides to shoot a police officer rather than go back to jail, let’s see how many politicians will be standing around to shake his hand.

    Police deal with armed criminals, maybe if the criminals could take their guns into the locked down safe space of the court room,or onto the floor of congress maybe they would see the side of the criminal they have the luxury of dismissing.

    He did ten years i hope no one sheds a tear for that or now feels compelled to give him a million dollars for his suffering. What was the gun for anyway? Oh, in case he runs into an armed drug dealer. Non police officers will never know what it’s like encountering real time real world dangersand face to face confrontation with lawless people.

  • MurrayMike Murray, UT
    Jan. 14, 2019 10:11 a.m.

    Interesting a South African would be espousing socioeconomic reasons for crime when south Africa is 7th in the world in violent crime and the United States is 14th. Don't forget, this man had a gun along with the pot. Who knows what crimes he'd done in the past. We just don't know.

  • bcurtis555 ,
    Jan. 11, 2019 1:05 p.m.

    There are nonviolent marijuana offenders serving sentences of life without parole, They were charged with conspiracy and exercised their 6th amendment right to trial. These are the Prisoners Left Behind by Clemency Project 2014 and by The First Step Act. This is not fiscally responsible, compassionate, merciful or just.

  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 8:01 p.m.

    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

  • Kralon HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA
    Jan. 9, 2019 6:31 p.m.

    Maybe we could just go all out and implement a justice system similar to the Scandinavian systems? Norway has a recidivism rate of 7% while the U.S. recidivism rate is 76%!

    I know it would require the public to move away from punishment systems, but it would sure be a lot better if we focused on rehabilitation rather than puritan punishment. And, did I mention cheaper? I'm guess the savings would be north of $100 billion a year in the U.S.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 4:44 p.m.

    Dealers are a lot different than users only, especially when carrying a weapon at the same time.

    Chap is and his associates?

  • DaveWY Afton, WY
    Jan. 9, 2019 2:55 p.m.

    55 years in prison for a crime where no one was hurt. Ridiculous. Lets get this changed. Keep dangerous, repeat offenders locked away, but we don't need to waste taxpayer dollars locking up someone who could be a productive person. Thanks Senator Lee.

  • bemorefair , 00
    Jan. 9, 2019 2:47 p.m.

    Kudos to a great man, Mike Lee. I was directly impacted by the charity of his father, Rex. I can vouch for the character of this family. The Lees are as good as it gets when it comes to caring human beings. Mike is showing the apple does not fall far from the tree.

    You are a great man, Senator Lee! When so many others simply talk a good game, thank you for leading by example and walking the walk, too.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 2:45 p.m.

    Good work Mike!

    The prison system is broken and for as much money as we spend we are getting a poor return.

    Just one reason why Utah shouldn't be spending $2 billion on a new prison. Goodness.

  • TMR Pasadena, CA
    Jan. 9, 2019 2:09 p.m.

    I am generally very critical of Mike Lee and his self-acclaimed constitutional expertise, but I feel compelled to praise him for a job well done. Now, if we can only extend this bipartisanship to other issues and venues!

  • Florwood American Fork, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 1:46 p.m.

    I support efforts to make the time fit the crime, and to work harder on reducing recidivism. I am impressed that Sen. Lee stuck with this for eight years.

  • bassoonlady OREM, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 12:43 p.m.

    Any of you read Les Miserable?
    The majority of criminals are those who come from low socioeconomic circumstances and/or broken homes.
    The best way to fight crime is to fight this.
    Why do small time dealers exist? Most of them because they get free drugs for dealing for their dealer.
    Why did they get addicted in the first place? Prescriptions are part of the problem, but from what I've seen most of the people who have drug problems had emotional problems before that.
    Why do we ignore mental health and then wonder why we have drug problems?
    Why do we pay people to stay poor and jobless without getting real help to integrate into society, a great protective factor?
    Yes, let's be smart on crime. Let's change what causes crime in the first place.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Jan. 9, 2019 7:37 a.m.

    I see all these articles about people sexually abusing children, having child pornography, etc. Everyday, I see something.

    If we have limited jail space, it probably is a better idea to have longer terms for pedophiles who act on their sexual preference than for people selling small amounts of marijuana.

  • dski HERRIMAN, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 7:03 a.m.

    Because the sentences to identical crimes were at the discretion of judges, the penalty were vastly different from one judge to another. Congress wanted to set a standard for sentencing to prevent bleeding heart judges from sentencing rapists or habitual hardcore criminals to a few months instead of years in prison. I admit 55 years is a long sentence but what is missing in the story is his previous crimes that led him to receive this 55 year sentence. The three strikes and you are going to prison for a long time was a good strategy although it could have been tuned to balance. However, society are safer when these folks are incarcerated for sometime not plea bargained to a lesser crime. If we don’t want to do the time, we should stay away from doing the crime.

  • Cindy B Provo, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 6:53 a.m.

    It's a good start, though prosecutors seem to have more power than judges, here in Utah. I would like to see more mercy shown in our justice system. We all can learn from our mistakes.

  • Million Riverton, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 6:03 a.m.

    I thought we sent Senator Lee back to Washington DC to cut the National Debt. That turned out to be a disaster when all he did was lead the charge to reduce the taxes of the rich. Talk about doing harm to my grandchildren and they haven't committed any crimes.

  • Thanda Pretoria, South Africa
    Jan. 9, 2019 5:14 a.m.

    Americans are an odd group of people. The US has one of the highest crime rates in the developed world despite having some of the harshest sentences in the world. Doesn't it ring a bell to you that it's not really working?

    Most other civilised countries have realised that reducing crime isn't about locking as many people away for as long as possible. Crime is most often associated to socioeconomic problems within the country. And solving those does far more to reduce crime that draconian prison sentences.

  • 112358 Alpine, UT
    Jan. 8, 2019 10:32 p.m.

    Advances in crime fighting have dramatically reduced crime in America. The recent efforts to undo those advances are exactly the wrong approach to fighting crime.

    Readers of this paper know that time and again the pages of this paper are covered with the horrible stories of innocent victims killed by repeat offenders – criminals who have spun through the revolving door of the criminal justice system. In recent memory alone, two innocent students at the U, and a Provo police officer, were killed by criminals that should have been behind bars.

    The killing of the innocent needs to stop. We need the political will to keep known offenders off the street. We need politicians with the courage to stand up for innocent victims. Such politicians will not garner laudatory press coverage, but they should take quiet satisfaction in protecting the innocent, in knowing that our sons, daughters, family, and friends can safely walk the streets without becoming the next tragedy.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 8, 2019 10:28 p.m.

    If you go after the cartels and dealers you help to shut down the drug crisis. Someone getting 55 yrs. for dealing might think twice about whether that is a good career or not.