One does not have to have blind faith in judges to prefer a criminal justice system that protects their discretion. When judges make mistakes, as they will necessarily do, their judgments can be appealed and overturned. The same is not true of prosecutors. Their most important decisions are unreviewable by any court and almost always shielded from public scrutiny.
The concentration of power in one federal actor’s hands should concern everyone who believes, along with our founders, that liberty is most secure when power is divided and subject to checks and balances. For even when that awesome power — to investigate, to indict, to prosecute — is not abused, as it clearly was in the case of Stevens, it must be checked.
Because mandatory sentencing laws eliminate any check on prosecutorial power, Members of Congress should oppose them.
Julie Stewart is president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.