Way back in the early 90's Edward Young got convicted of two burglary-related felonies, the last of this rather small-time crime being in 1992. Some or nearly 20 years later he came into possession of 7 shotgun shells while helping a neighbor clean out her house folloing her husband's death. The prior felony convictions made it unlawful for Young to possess the shells, something he did not know. In any event, he was charged and based on these two prior felony convictions over 20 years earlier determined to be subject to the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) and its 15-year mandatory minimum sentence. The case is United States v. Young, No. 13-5714 (6th Circuit, September 11, 2014).
Young raised an 8th Amendment constitutional challenge to the 15 year sentence, which the Sixth Circuit rejected in a curious per curiam opinion. Judge Jane Stranch, in a concurring opinion, lamented the law she saw the panel bound to apply and the grossly disproportionate sentence that the ACCA required be imposed on Young, lamenting as follows:
I therefore join the continuous flood of voices expressing concern that the ACCA and other mandatory minimum laws are ineffective in achieving their purpose and damaging to our federal criminal justice system and our nation. I commend this case as another example of the need to reconsider the ACCA and mandatory sentencing in general.
There is further discussion of the Young decision at Sentencing Law & Policy (whose Prof. Doug Berman filed an amicus brief and argued in Young's favor) and a Richard M. Re's Re's Judicata, A "Shell" Game in the Sixth Circuit.