John Oliver on Mandatory Minimums

John Oliver did a very compelling segment about why mandatory minimum sentences are a terrible idea that feed our mass incarceration system, something I’ve been saying for a long time. Oliver is really quite remarkable. He’s basically invented an entirely new form: long-form comedic journalism.

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  • sugarfrosted

    I’m glad he left the Daily Show. Though at the time I was disappointed. He really managed to escape Stewart’s shadow.

  • colnago80

    Of course, the issue of mandatory minimums that Brayton cites neglects to explain why we have them. The reason is that way back in the distant pass of the 1960s, it appeared that soft hearted judges were letting miscreants off with probation or short sentences. The mandatory minimums were in response to those alleged miscarriages of justice. In particular, the Rockefeller drug laws passed in New York State were almost draconian for offenses like marijuana possession. As former Michigan State Supreme Court Justice John Voelker once wrote, jurisprudence in the US is lock ’em up like a mad dog and keep ’em locked up.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    I love that they release these in full on YouTube. It would be a shame if Oliver’s work was only being seen by HBO subscribers.

  • Die Anyway

    Our whole incarceration paradigm needs changing. I see this kind of thing on the nightly news too often; (story 1) sobbing family members as husband/father is carted off to prison to serve a long sentence for some relatively minor crime for which he was convicted on flimsy evidence. (story 2) Someone has been arrested for some horrific crime (rape, murder, child molestation). The news anchor tells us, “the suspect was well known to police having been arrested 62 times in the past 4 years”. The man in the second story is a walking crime spree, and the police know it but there he is until he finally does major damage. And I’m sitting there thinking that there’s really something wrong with the system.

  • davroslives

    I love John Oliver; unfortunately, I live in the UK, and HBO kindly decided to geoblock us since the end of the first season

  • jblackfyre

    @davroslives

    I love John Oliver; unfortunately, I live in the UK, and HBO kindly decided to geoblock us since the end of the first season

    You can always watch the main segments in YouTube on his channel: here

    It may be coincidence, but some of the topics John touches are not much later picked up by Congress or PotUS. It would be nice to see a comedian influence US politics.

  • davek23

    Oliver is really quite remarkable. He’s basically invented an entirely new form: long-form comedic journalism.

    I’m afraid your US-centrism is showing a bit here Ed; as a fellow comedian, you really ought to be aware that Mark Thomas basically single-handedly defined the genre and has been working and refining it for the best part of two decades. I won’t speculate whether he directly influenced J.O., but it’s entirely plausible since J.O. was over here in the UK and working the comedy scene in the early ’00s when M.T. was becoming quite a big thing in comedy/activism.

    If you really haven’t heard of Thomas, you should definitely download and watch some of his stuff; it’s very clearly the roots of the new genre.