Mandatory minimum sentences, which require judges to sentence drug offenders to a minimum sentence even if they believe leniency is merited, are a hot debate in Massachusetts, thanks, in large part, to a single statement made two weeks ago by the chief justice of the state's Supreme Judicial Court, Ralph Gants.

I am convinced that mandatory minimum sentencing in drug cases will be abolished; the only question is when...Because doing so makes fiscal sense, justice sense, policy sense, and common sense.

The responses to that came fast and furious, including from Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, who said it was an effort to return to a failed policy of 30 years ago.

Former federal Judge Nancy Gertner and former Essex county prosecutor Bill Fallon hashed it out.