Negative Consequences of Mandatory Sentencing

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Negative Consequences of Mandatory Sentencing

In recent years several mandatory sentencing laws have been put into motion. The original goals of the mandatory sentencing laws were to stop repeat offenders and to exhibit a "get tough attitude" on crime. These laws have not been working as intended, instead mandatory sentencing has led to some unfortunate consequences. Some of these consequences are overcrowding in prisons and less prison based rehabilitation. Mandatory sentencing laws do not narrowly target major drug traffickers.

Today there are 100 separate federal mandatory minimums located in 60 different criminal statues. An example of mandatory sentencing is New York's Rockefeller laws which order terms extending from 15 years to life for nonviolent drug offenses. Five years ago in California the "three strikes " law was passed sending people away for 25 years to life for a third felony conviction. The "three strikes" law is overcrowding prisons and weighing down the courts with appeals. Under the "three strikes" laws a violent first time violent offender may be let out of jail to accommodate a third time nonviolent offender. In 1993, 71% of all federal prisoners were non-violent offenders and in 1994, 92% of federal prisoners were non-violent offenders. The 1994 Crime Act requires offenders to serve up to 85% of their sentence. (Casa) The "War on Drugs" is nothing but a war on the "weak and those unable to defend themselves" (Cose). 95% of non-violent drug offenders who are getting out of prison are getting little to no redirection. As many as 75% of drug offenders released from prison will re-offend and be back in jail within four years.

Non-violent drug addicts are getting more time than murderers. These ...

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