John Oliver Discusses Mandatory Minimums On 'Last Week Tonight'

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Mandatory Minimums (HBO)

Mandatory minimums require fixed prison sentences for certain crimes. John Oliver explains why we treat some turkeys better than most low-level offenders.

Posted by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

When the US fell into the immortal fear of all drugs in the 80s, legislators set up mandatory minimum sentences which meant any drug offences, regardless of severity, would be punished with a minimum number of years.

Having seen President Obama pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, John Oliver decided to point out how the US treats farm animals better than people who dealt a small amount of drugs decades ago.

Oliver's segment on the issue included testimony from Kevin Ott, a man sentenced to life without parole for possessing a meagre three ounces of crystal meth. Meanwhile, as pointed out later in the video, a child rapist would get 11 years simply because mandatory minimums were introduced during a period of mass hysteria surrounding drug use.

As Oliver says: "Prison sentences are a lot like penises: If they’re used correctly, even a short one can do the trick."