One of the more famous mandatory minimum horror stories belongs to a Minnesota native named Serena Nunn, who in 1990 was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for helping her boyfriend sell drugs.
Nearly 30 years later, her life story is being adapted into a TV series.
Titled Closure, the show is now in the development stages under a preliminary deal with NBC.
In an email to GoMN, the network described the series as "an inspiring legal procedural" about Nunn's dramatic journey through the justice system, which began with her arrest in Minneapolis at age 19 "despite her being a star student and her negligible role in the crime as the girlfriend of a drug dealer."
Her long road to freedom
Nunn was given 15 years under mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.
But thanks to a sympathetic lawyer who read her story in a newspaper, her case gained new attention and President Bill Clinton commuted her sentence in 2000.
That wasn't the end of her troubles, however.
Though Nunn eventually went to college and earned a law degree, her conviction prevented her from actually becoming a full-fledged lawyer.
Her fortunes changed last year when President Barack Obama gave Nunn a full pardon, allowing her to be admitted to the Georgia Bar.
She is now an attorney for the public defender's office in Atlanta, her LinkedIn says.
Though she commited a crime, ProPublica notes her punishment was condemned by none other than the judge who handed down the sentence.
"If mandatory minimums did not exist, no judge in America, including me, would have ever sentenced Ms. Nunn to 15 years in prison," the website quoted U.S. District Judge David S. Doty as saying.
Closure will be produced by the creator of Drop Dead Diva, musician John Legend (who dabbles in movie and TV production), and Sony Pictures Television Studios.
Nunn and the lawyer who helped her gain her freedom will serve as "executive consultants," NBC says.
The network has not mentioned casting or possible air dates yet.