John Oliver Explains Why Prison Sentences Are Like Penises

"If they're used correctly, even a short one can do the trick."


President Barack Obama freed dozen of nonviolent offenders earlier this month to draw attention to the harsh and often unfair sentences given under mandatory minimum sentencing rules for drug offenders.

As John Oliver noted on HBO's "Last Week Tonight," it's about time.  

"Ridiculously long sentences are not a great deterrent to crime. Prison sentences are a lot like penises: If they're used correctly, even a short one can do the trick," Oliver said, quickly adding, " a rumor I have heard."

Oliver explained how the drug paranoia of the '80s and '90s led to mandatory sentences that in one case resulted in a man getting life in prison for a small amount of meth.

"He got a life sentence for 3 ounces of meth. That is insane," Oliver said. "They're treating him like he's ["Breaking Bad"] season five Walter White, when he's barely episode one Jesse Pinkman.”  

Oliver also told the story of a 24-year-old father who sold small amounts of marijuana to an informant while he was carrying a gun, an act which led to a 55-year prison sentence with no possibility of parole.  

"He won't get out until he's 79 for selling something that's legal for recreational use in four states and whose main side effect is making episodes of 'Frasier' slightly funnier," Oliver said. 

Even the judge who sentenced that man said, "That's not right."  

Get the full story in the clip above. 

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