The House Judiciary Committee heard some powerful testimony Tuesday against mandatory minimum sentencing — and not only from Families Against Mandatory Minimums and the Sentencing Project. Offering a sharp critique was Paul Cassell, the noted Utah federal district judge who chairs the criminal law committee of the Judicial Conference, which has long opposed mandatory minimums.

In his prepared testimony, Cassell spoke of the “bizarre” 55-year sentence he felt compelled to give Weldon Angelos, a first-time offender convicted of selling marijuana in 2004. Angelos was founder of Extravagant Records, a rap and hip-hop label that produced records for Snoop Dogg among others. Angelos’ marijuana offenses alone would have netted him six to eight years in prison, but because he carried a gun during the deals, Cassell said that mandatory minimums for gun possession left him no other choice but to bump the sentence up to 55 years.

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