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Michele Leonhart -- Vision, Conscience, Guts

One of the many pleasures of having been Counselor to the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration was the opportunity to work with the then-Deputy Administrator, Michele Leonhart. She started her career decades ago as a line patrol officer on the streets of Baltimore.  A few years back, President Obama named her DEA Administrator. A more heartening story of success through devotion would be hard to find.

Yesterday, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she proved that's she's still the courageous person I came to know.  Although her boss, the Attorney General, and the powerful Committee Chairman, Patrick Leahy, both vocally support slashing mandatory minimum sentences, Michele was having none of it.  As the Washington Post reports (at the dead end of its long story):

Leonhart also spoke out in support of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes, an issue Holder has highlighted recently as part of his initiative to reduce prison crowding and foster equity in criminal sentencing.

Holder has instructed his 93 U.S. attorneys to use their discretion in charging low-level, nonviolent criminals with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences.

Leonhart, in response to a question from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), said: "Having been in law enforcement as an agent for 33 years [and] a Baltimore City police officer before that, I can tell you that for me and for the agents that work at the DEA, mandatory minimums have been very important to our investigations. We depend on those as a way to ensure that the right sentences equate the level of violator we are going after."

I was always proud to be a friend of Michele's, but never prouder than I am today.

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