Full episode
143: Sentencing
Act Two

How We Got Here

We hear the history of why these drug laws were enacted from a firsthand witness. Eric Sterling was the lawyer in charge of drug laws for the House Judiciary Committee during the 1980s, when mandatory minimums were put in place. He tells the inside story of how the laws were rammed through Congress—with no input from judges, prison wardens or police officers—as part of a frenzy of get-tough posturing led not by Republicans, but by Democrats. (15 minutes)