Another Sunday night means another episode of Last Week Tonight in which John Oliver points out something America is doing totally wrong. Last night's episode focuses on mandatory minimums, or required harsh sentences for certain crimes. These sentences are doled out without any context for the individual crime and often involve sentencing nonviolent drug offenders to ridiculous amounts of prison time.
A perfect example is a prisoner given a life sentence without parole for carrying three ounces of methamphetamine. Cue the Breaking Bad jokes.
These mandatory minimums are terrible for so many reasons. They're outdated, originally introduced during the decades-old war on drugs, they're responsible for massive overcrowding in prisons, they usually target minorities and they're occasionally more extreme than sentences for crimes like rape and terrorism.
Putting someone in jail for 55 years without a chance of parole for selling marijuana (a drug that's now legal in parts of the United States), not only wastes prison resources, it ruins lives. Leave it to America to be both incredibly inefficient AND totally unfair.
John Oliver ends with two major changes that need to be made: state and federal governments must work to remove mandatory minimum laws and they must implement a way for current prisoners to reduce their unfair sentences.
Your move government.