Many Tennessee residents are aware of the serious drug problems all across the state, and as a result, state and federal officials are cracking down hard on any criminal activity related to drug use, possession or distribution. However, many Tennessee residents are unaware at how harshly the law can treat offenders -- especially first-time offenders.
An excellent example of this is a Memphis drug ring case from last month. In all, 21 people were indicted on federal drug charges (possession, distribution and conspiracy charges; all relating to heroin).
While exact details are unknown regarding the people indicted on the federal drug charges, it is very likely that at least one of them is a first-time offender. And while it would seem like such a person would be treated with a bit of leniency regarding his or her sentencing, that rarely happens.
In fact, prosecutors often seek excessive prison terms for drug offenders (this is especially true in federal cases). When the case involves a drug ring -- like this Memphis case -- the prosecutor may try to turn it into a "career case," slapping conspiracy charges on anyone involved in the case even if they only played a marginal or peripheral role.
For repeat offenders, the situation is more troublesome. Federal courts rarely show mercy and make a defendant who is found (or pleads) guilty serve the entire length of his or her jail sentence.
It is easy to just assume that these people are guilty, but that simply is not the case. Not everyone deserves the harsh treatment that most, if not all, federal courts show drug offenders.
Source: The Commercial Appeal, "21 indicted for being involved in West Tennessee drug ring," Jody Callahan, May 17, 2012