John Oliver delivers a much-needed wake-up call on drug laws and mandatory minimums

john oliver mandatory minimums

last week tonight

‘Prison sentences are like penises. If used correctly, even a short one can do the trick.’

Mandatory minimum sentencing laws can lock up minor drug offenders for life. As John Oliver explained on the latest Last Week Tonight, this policy has inevitably caused more harm than good.

Mandatory minimums were introduced at the height of drug scare in the 1980s and ’90s, when the public was paranoid about kids getting hooked on crack cocaine. Fixed prison sentences were meant to act as a deterrent, but the laws have gone on to ruin good people’s lives.

Even judges—whose hands are tied in individual case where they might want to be more lenient—agree that it’s unfair to give weed dealers harsher punishments than violent criminals, especially when those lengthy prison sentences continue after marijuana has been legalized.

“Prison sentences are like penises. If used correctly, even a short one can do the trick.” Thanks, John Oliver. 

Screengrab via Last Week Tonight/YouTube

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor