Cheers to George F. Will for calling attention to the “sledgehammer justice” [op-ed, Dec. 26] created by mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. Inordinate power has been given to prosecutors to pressure defendants to give up their right to trial and plead guilty to lesser charges.

Progress has been made to reduce the punishment disparity between crack and powder cocaine, eliminate mandatory sentences for simple possession of a controlled substance and place more emphasis on mitigating factors. More reforms are needed, particularly to give judges more discretion in sentencing. A scalpel in the hands of a judge is preferable to a sledgehammer in the hands of a prosecutor.

John M. Hughes, Arlington