While I have no idea how to feel about Zimmerman’s acquittal …

by look i have opinions

… I’m deeply disturbed by the failure of the Florida “stand your ground” law in Marissa Alexander’s case.

Even if she’s lying about her husband’s violent behavior, and about going back in the house to get a phone to call for help, it amazes me that a gunshot that hit nothing but plaster could get you twenty years. Twenty years. That’s Florida’s mandatory minimum sentence for firing a gun while committing a felony (aggravated assault in this case).

Mandatory-minimum sentencing laws seem to be another tedious variation on “zero-tolerance laws”—legislation presumably designed to be so mindless that even idiots can enforce it. In principle, mindlessness may be a virtue. If everyone always followed the same rote, plodding, by-the-numbers approach to enforcing the law, there would be no room for racial discrimination or other cognitive biases. The actual laws in question, however, seem to be invariably ludicrous.

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