Second Circuit reiterates that mandatory minimum statutes trump parsimony instruction of 3553(a)
See, D. Berman’s 9/28/2012 blog entry and comments. http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2012/09/second-circuit-reiterates-that-mandatory-minimum-statutes-trump-parsimony-instruction-of-3553a.html#comments
Categorical determination of punishment by Congress prior to any individualized evaluation by a sentencing judge cannot be fair, as punishment must “fit the offender and not merely the crime.” Cf., Pepper v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 1229, 1240 (2011). Because mandatory minimum statutes are categorical by definition such punishment is constitutional only if: (1) the sentencing judge first conducts an individualized weighing of the case’s facts and offender characteristics; and (2) based on that individualized weighing the sentencing court retains the power to sentence below the mandatory minimum if necessary to comply with the mandates of fundamental fairness and due process. This ensures that the mandatory punishment, as applied, complies with the parsimony requirements of fundamental due process to impose a sentence no greater than necessary to achieve the just goals of sentencing in our culture. Federal courts are without power to impose sentences greater than necessary. No such power has been granted to the federal government.
See also, “Due Process in Sentencing” http://www.timpolishan.com/due-process-in-sentencing/