The Girlfriend Problem: How Mandatory Minimum Sentences Punish Women
Date:  11-23-2018

Women in a relationship with a drug dealer are often hit with conspiracy charges even though they may have a nothing to do with dealing drugs
From Rolling Stone:

In 2008, Cynthia Shank was sentenced, as a first-time offender, to 15 years in prison on drug-conspiracy charges. She had once been the girlfriend of Alex Humphrey, a Lansing, Michigan, drug dealer, who was shot and killed in a drug bust in 2002. In the years since she’d lived with Humphrey, she had completely rehabilitated her life: She had a job at a restaurant chain as a manager, was married and had two children, with a third on the way.

But because Shank had shared a past life and home with a drug dealer, she was a conspirator, and Federal Mandatory Minimum guidelines for crimes like Humphrey’s delivered severe and punitive sentences to their “conspirators” — especially girlfriends.

A mandatory-minimum guideline is a sentencing limitation, instituted by Congress to force federal judges to impose harsh sentences as a way to deter crime. When harsh-sentencing guidelines were passed in the late 1980s, a hidden effect was the so-called Girlfriend Problem — long prison sentences given to women tangentially connected to violent or severe offenders.

Conspiracy is a charge often assigned to low-level members of a drug organization, with prosecutors exchanging plea bargains for information to help capture higher-level criminals. Women personally connected to these organizations, however, often have little information to exchange. Additionally, many refuse to cooperate as informants against family so they end up the victims of harsh sentences that have little to do with their roles. Continue Reading >>>