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The mandatory minimum sentences attached to federal narcotics violations1 have come in for plenty of criticism. The United States Sentencing Commission in 1991 submitted a lengthy report critical of the mandatory minimum provisions.2 A political protest organization, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, has been formed, and has gotten some media attention. 3 Newspaper columnists,4 professional commentators,5 judges,6 and academics,7 have criticized the statutes. Amidst the controversy over President Clinton's last-minute pardons of various offenders, his pardons of a number of marginal defendants sentenced to lengthy terms under these statutes have drawn little or no objection.8 Even Chief Justice Rehnquist, a strong voice for law enforcement, has denounced mandatory minimum sentences as having little serious justification. 9

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