What Are The Pros And Cons Of Minimum Sentencing

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Since the 1980s, the federal prison population of the US has grown from 24,640 to 214,149 (Population Statistics 1). This figure may appear miniscule given the fact that there are over 300 million people residing within the United States. However, this is just one figure of many; currently, the United States holds the largest prison population total out of any country at 2,217,000 (Prison Population Total 1). This major increase in incarceration is not the product of a higher crime rate, but due to the creation of sentencing guidelines that followed the enactment of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. These guidelines require that certain federal and state crimes result in a set minimum of years in prison. The minimum sentencing guidelines…show more content…
Criminals are deterred from pleading guilty because minimum sentencing guarantees a harsh punishment, which in turn costs time and money by prolonging court cases. Minimum sentencing should not be mandatory because it is unconstitutional, does not deter crime, and is not cost-effective. Minimum sentencing is unconstitutional because it conflicts with Amendment VI and Amendment VIII of the US Constitution. Amendment VI states, “in all criminal prosecutions, the defendant is entitled to an impartial jury, witnesses for and against him, and an attorney” (US Const. amend. VI). Minimum sentencing violates an individual’s right to a jury trial by requiring prerequisite criminal charges to result in a higher adjustment of the guideline range, which in consequence results in a longer prison sentence for the individual (Bowman 5). In United…show more content…
amend. VIII). Under minimum sentencing, the convicted are subject to longer and more severe prison sentencing and penalties than they would be without it (Task Force Urged 1). If an individual had been previously convicted, they would receive a harsher punishment for their current crime; according to Jay Casper, a political scientist that has studied the American legal system his entire career, “everyone convicted of other specified offenses with certain prior records, must be sentenced to prison, removing the judge’s discretion to impose lesser terms like jail, probation, or whatever” (White 1). In the case of United States v. Tony Greg, Tony Allen Greg was not a threat to society, but he was given a lifelong prison sentence for possession of cocaine because it was his third drug-related felony (Dahl 7). Because minimum sentencing conflicts with Amendment VI and Amendment VIII of the Bill of Rights, it is therefore unconstitutional and does not belong in the US judicial
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