Securing Higher Grades Costing Your Pocket? Book Your Assignment at The Lowest Price Now!

  • +1-617-874-1011 (US)
  • +44-117-230-1145 (UK)
Online Customer Service
Follow Us:

The Effects of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws

Abstract

A mandatory minimum sentence law demands that a person should get convicted of a certain offense for at least a minimum term developed by the statute. The minimum sentence laws remain a concern to the criminal justice reformations and the legal organization, public interest groups, researchers and practitioners call for reformations. The laws aimed at reducing unwarranted bias in sentencing, enhancing public safety, and ensuring that the criminal sentences remained more transparent. However, the strategy failed to attain the expected results because it wrongly assumed that harsh penalties were meant for repeat criminals, despite the associated nature of their past convictions or when committed and developed disparities. Many people face punishments disproportionate to their crimes. The laws remain connected to increased disparities, failure to deter crime and recidivism and increase incarceration and overcrowding leading to increased costs (McNeils, 2017). The paper will analyze the mandatory minimum sentence laws, criticism, and solutions.

The Effects of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws in The American Criminal Justice System

The mandatory minimum sentencing laws play a significant role in maintaining a high number of incarceration and low rehabilitation. The majority of state and federal minimum laws result from drug crimes and the presumptions that drugs remain connected to violence developed due to political and media hype associated with the war on drugs (Barkow, 2019). The mandatory minimums remained available since the 1790s and were originally reserved for various crimes including murder and privacy. Currently, the rise in mandatory sentences results from the war on drugs, and in the 1970s, the Nixon administration discovered that 1.3 percent of the US citizens remained addicted to drugs. The legislation during the Nixon administration responded to the crises by enacting the mandatory minimum sentences for drug suppliers and users, instead of concentrating on the root cause of the crisis. In 1984, Congress passed the Sentencing Reform Act to eliminate parole and demanded that the incarcerated people must serve approximately 80% of their sentences (McNeils, 2017).

 The Anti-Drug Abuse Act was enacted by Congress in 1986 mandating adverse minimum sentences with the hope of locking up the drug dealers and eliminating them from the streets. Currently, federal and state legislatures utilize mandatory sentences as an instrument to fight drugs because they believe that harsh sentences will prevent potential criminals from violating the regulations. The legislators utilize the deterrent theories and overlook the drug culture's inherent nature because various elements including the addiction prevent the sentence from acting as a reliable tool on war and drugs (Dahl, 2014). In the 1980s, Congress transformed the federal crimes punishment and in 1984, the Comprehensive Crime Control Act enacted the judge's discretion, increased prosecutor's powers and eliminated parole via the adaptation of the minimum and maximum sentences, and increased the pretrial detention (Gertner, 2010). The United States Sentencing Commission was charged previously with developing compulsory sentencing guidelines for federal crimes depending on data and research, however, Congress declared its sentencing for various crimes and passed the harsh penalties and the minimum sentencing laws for recidivists. Congress passed the ACCA or the Armed Career Criminal Act in 1984 and was amended to the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act (McNeils, 2017).

The statute imposes a compulsory 15 years minimum sentence on a criminal convicted of a federal felon-in-possession crime with more than three previous convictions in violent felony and adverse drugs. The laws aimed at reducing unwarranted bias in sentencing, enhancing public safety, and ensuring that the criminal sentences remained more transparent. However, the strategy failed to attain the expected results because it wrongly assumed that harsh penalties were meant for repeat criminals, despite the associated nature of their past convictions or when committed and developed disparities. Many people face punishments disproportionate to their crimes (Barkow, 2019).

The minimum sentence laws remain ineffective in preventing drug addiction and maintaining the harmful drug dealers in jail. The laws remain ineffective because they fail to consider the effects they possess on the offenders at various levels and assume the offender’s level of participation in the distribution of narcotics and do not differentiate minor and major violators of the law (Gertner, 2010). Most of the offenders who face the minimum sentences laws are not significant to the narcotics distribution agencies because the street dealers remain replaceable and possess limited offensive force. As a result, the government and other concerned stakeholders must review the minimum sentence laws and reform to ensure their effectiveness and eliminate the negative repercussion associated with the law (Mauer, 2010). The paper will provide an analysis of how the minimum sentence laws impact the criminal justice system.

Problem Statement

The statutorily of mandatory sentencing demanded the judges implement, at a minimum, a certain sentence for a specific criminal crime and tend to ignore the individuality of each offender.  As a result, the judges cannot take into considerations the special qualities and every criminal defendant including if a person sustained injuries, motives of participating in the crime, whether the punishment will assist in maintaining public safety, rehabilitation possibilities, and the role of the individual in the crime (Gertner, 2010). As a result, the state and federal prosecutors obtain power while the judges are denied the power. Therefore, the prosecutors can pressurize the offenders to accept the accusations and plead guilty for the crimes with the intent of minimizing the crime instead of imposing the offender’s legal right to trial (Dahl, 2014).

As a result, the action leads to a conviction and the offender obtains a harsh mandatory minimum penalty which he may not deserve. The offenders at the lower level don’t possess adequate information to help the prosecutors and plead guilty to the offense and obtain a minimum sentence because offenders at a higher position possess additional information to help the prosecutor in further convictions, making it easier for them to reduce the length of their sentences. The minimum sentences law has resulted in an increased number of incarceration leading to approximately three thousand non-violent offenders in the US serving life sentences without parole, which impacts the low-level offenders more (McNeils, 2017).  

Additionally, mandatory minimums for drug criminals provided conservative and liberal legislators with a win to win scenario because the liberals claimed that the mandatory minimums resulted in limited disparity sentencing on the federal judges part mostly disparity in sentencing against the minority while the conservatives welcomed the nature of tough on offenses of the penalties. Holder provided 4 reasons why the mandatory minimums required changes. Holder claimed that recidivist improvement statutes and mandatory minimum lead to unduly harsh punishment, and the statutes lead to real or perceived disparities that fail to demonstrate the Principles of Federal Prosecution (Gertner, 2010).

More so, the long sentences do not enhance public safety, rehabilitation, and deterrence and the increased costs in prisons must get minimized to divert funds in other initiatives connected to criminal justice (Dahl, 2014). Mandatory minimums, as well as consecutive sentences, fail to deter crimes, instead, a lengthier incarceration period may result in increased recidivism among the criminals because offenders fail to acknowledge the length of a sentence when deciding whether to commit a crime or not commit a crime. Instead, the offender's concerns depend on whether or not they will get caught when committing a crime. As a result, strategies that promote the harshness of the punishment as a sentencing rationale may not yield a tangible deterrent impact (McNeils, 2017).

More so, the expanding and progressive utilization of incarceration will enhance the criminal justice costs for state and federal corrections without adequate evidence that the sentences enhance public safety.  Research indicates that mandatory minimums for gun-related crimes leading to harsh penalties increased the incentives for defendants to go for trials instead of pleading guilty to the offense. The sentences result in additional trials, prison overcrowding, and appeals leading to effects on reintegration and planning efforts of the offenders and increased recidivism. Overcrowding leads to the use of large quantities of resources with negative effects and results in the diversion of the resources away from programs and initiatives that may benefit the criminal justice system (Mauer, 2010).

 Research Questions

  • What can the legislators do to the mandatory minimum laws to ensure their effectiveness?
  • How does the law increase disparities?
  • What impact does the minimum sentence law possess on public safety?
  • How can the law minimize recidivism among the offenders?

Significance of the Study

The study aims at providing additional information on the strategies and approaches that when implemented, can improve the minimum sentencing law ad make it more effective in minimizing crime. The information remains significant for the criminal justice system in ensuring that the minimum sentencing law serves the expected purpose including reducing crimes and recidivism and ensuring equality. The study will use the views from the criminal justice experts and examples of cases by the offenders to gain more insight on the issue and develop the most appropriate strategies to ensure that the minimum sentencing law remains effective.  The researcher issued criminal experts with online questionnaires to obtain their views concerning the matter and out of the 12 issued with the questionnaire, 10 completed filling the questionnaire after getting issued with an infirmed contest. The questionnaire used a Likert scale of

Scale Indexes

The scale indexes utilized include the Likert Scale including Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree, and Do not know. The participants were asked to answer the questions depending on whether they strongly agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree, and Do not know.

Item

Strongly Agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Do not know

The minimum sentence law increases disparities

7

3

0

0

0

The minimum sentence law affects the public safety

2

2

5

1

0

The minimum sentence law reduces recidivism

1

2

5

2

0

The minimum sentence law require reformation to remain effective

7

2

1

0

0

From the ten respondents approached to provide their views, seven strongly agreed that minimum sentence increases disparities, 3 agreed and non-disagreed. More so, when asked if the minimum sentence law had impacts on public safety, 2 strongly agreed, 2 agreed, 5 disagreed and one strongly disagreed. Additionally, when asked if the law minimizes recidivism, 1 strongly agreed, 2 agreed, 5 disagreed and 2 strongly agreed. When asked whether the law required reformations, 7 strongly agreed, 2 agreed, and one disagreed. Therefore, it remained evident that the minimum law increase disparities does not possess a positive effect on public safety, does not reduce recidivism, and required reformation to ensure its effectiveness (McNeils, 2017).

Policy Implications

The mandatory minimum sentencing legislations do not include judicial discretion to handle sentences below the statutory minimum leading to disproportionality in unjust punishment. Research indicates that mandatory minimum may not minimize future crimes and the laws transfer sentencing power to prosecutors who pressurize the defendants unfairly to make them plead guilty for the offense and distort the separate powers legal framework. The laws result in unequal treatment of the offenders and encourage manipulation of the criminal justice system. As a result, it remains necessary for the government and the criminal justice system to reform the mandatory minimum sentence laws to ensure their effectiveness (Luna, 2017). The study will provide a criticism of the minimum sentence law and how it remains ineffective in minimizing crime. The information will increase an understanding of the shortcomings of the law and the need for reformation.

The drug-connected mandatory minimum sentence laws were passed to punish mid-level and kingpin dealers. The mandatory minimums prevented the federal judges from utilizing their power to handle the prosecutions (Gertner, 2010). The limitations of the judges, the sympathetic defendants, and the harsh punishments made the judges define the cases as their worst in their judge career. Congressman Asa Hutchinson and Judge Stanley Sporkin recounted a case where a mother of 9 kids was arrested with a kingpin for transforming normal cocaine into crack cocaine. The kingpin was sentenced to 20 years in prison while the female was sentenced to 10 years mandatory minimum sentence. The district court reasoned that the sentence remained too long for the mother ad was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. The case was appealed by the prosecution and taken to the circuit court which declared the sentence as unfit. However, when the decision came down, the mother has served the 3 years in prison and was completely rehabilitated. However, the mother went back to the complete to accomplish the mandatory minimum sentence (Dahl, 2014). In another case, Greg, an occasional drug dealer, and a drug user as well as a petty criminal, sold cocaine in small quantities out of a hotel. When Greg was arrested, Greg has sentenced to life in prison because he had been involved in criminal activities previously, and this was the third time he was involved in a drug felony. The minimum sentence laws increase with harshness with repeated crimes. The judge decided that Greg deserved a similar penalty with the threat of a killer (Dahl, 2014).

Moreover, the mandatory minimum penalties possess disproportionate effects on the minority populations including the blacks' offenders, and eliminate alternatives for conditional and absolute discharges, conditional and probation sentences in addition to increasing the volume and rates of incarcerations.  Mandatory sentencing has increased racial disparities within the system evident in the federal case processing (Barkow, 2019).  Available data suggest that mandatory minimum sentencing remain associated with the defendant's race where the white possess a higher likelihood to get a lower mandatory minimum compared to non-whites, fifty-four percent of the white defendants got sentenced with mandatory minimum as compared to 67.7% of the Blacks and 57% of the Hispanics. The reason behind the disparities includes the fact that the minimum sentences apply to drug offenses prosecutions. The drug war has resulted in disproportionate impacts on the Black population and the harsh penalties remain applicable to the population that is not representative of all individuals who violate the laws. Additionally, the mandatory penalties offer harsher punishment to criminals with past convictions. The minority population possesses a higher likelihood of having been involved in past criminal activities compared to the whites (Mauer, 2010).

Additionally, the most evident disparities that remain evident in the mandatory minimums include the disproportionate sentences on the lower and higher function offenders. The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act allowed the judges to sentence the criminals below the mandatory minimum. The substantial assistance demonstrated the objective of the government in breaking the drug ring and finding the kingpins, however, it resulted in the low-level offenders finding themselves in prison while the high-level offenders remained free.  For instance, Nicole dated a drug dealer, Jeff Thompson. Thompson's supplier was arrested and names him and when the agents called his number, Nicole picked it up and infirmed them on how they would contact Thompson to purchase the drugs.  Nicole got arrested for the intention of distributing drugs and received 10 years in prison while Thompson had the opportunity to assist the agents in prosecution and got five years in prison (Dahl, 2014).

Mandatory minimum sentence laws got enacted to ensure public safety because they believed that the harsh penalties would send a message to other offenders that certain behaviors or violations of the law would result in harsh punishments.  Currently, however, no data exist demonstrating a connection between the minimum sentence penalty and crime reduction and studies indicate that the harsh penalties may not have any effect on crime reduction (Barkow, 2019). Minimum sentencing laws remain ineffective in crime reduction, mostly drug crimes due to the replacement nature of the crime. Since most drug offenders come from the middle and lower level of the drug trade and imprisoning them develops a job opportunity for others. Additionally, the penalties may impact recidivism because the minimum sentences law increases the length of stay in the prison for the offenders and restrict the judge’s discretion and parole and probation official leading to criminogenic impact.  More so, the law increases the successful re-integration challenges because the length of stay and their long stay away from home erode the community and family ties (Mauer, 2010).

It remains significant for the government to consider safety valves as a solution to the effects of minimum sentence laws. The safety valve legislation will permit judges to sentence an offender from getting a life sentence. The safety valve available in federal law protects the first-time criminals convicted of drug offenses from getting a life sentence if they remained non-violent, cooperates fully with the government, and not a leader of the group. However, the safety valve remains too narrow and needs an extension to include larger groups of non-violent drug criminals. The introduction of a safety valve in the minimum sentence laws will reduce the rate of incarceration and overcrowding which has resulted in increased costs (Gertner, 2010). The safety valve offers a balance between the necessity to protect human rights and the requirement for public safety. The safety valve further addresses the issue of sentencing low-level offenders to life in prison and permit courts to make decisions to prevent unintended and unreasonable repercussions of mandatory minimum laws and minimize the spending on unnecessary incarceration (McNeils, 2017).

The government can empower the parole and correlational authorities to reconsider the length of sentencing. The commission can investigate the recent prison sentences under the minimum sentences laws and consider whether it remains appropriate to continue with the incarceration of the inmates serving long sentences (Barkow, 2019). Additionally, the government can limit the effect and scope of minimum sentencing by narrowing their impacts and reach. The laws should remain limited in scope to prevent the implementation of fewer adverse offenders and crimes and provide the judges with the power to issue lower sentences with appropriate reason to why the presumption may not remain applicable in a certain case (Luna, 2017).

In conclusion, will provide an analysis on how the minimum sentence laws impact the criminal justice system. The government and other concerned stakeholders must review the minimum sentence laws and reform to ensure their effectiveness and eliminate the negative repercussion associated with the law. The minimum sentence laws remain ineffective in preventing drug addiction and maintaining the harmful drug dealers in jail. The laws remain ineffective because they fail to consider the effects they possess on the offenders at various levels and assume the offender's level of participation in the distribution of narcotics and do not differentiate minor and major violators of the law. The laws result in unequal treatment of the offenders and encourage manipulation of the criminal justice system. As a result, it remains necessary for the government and the criminal justice system to reform the mandatory minimum sentence laws to ensure their effectiveness.  The government can empower the parole and correlational authorities to reconsider the length of sentencing. More so, it remains significant for the government to consider safety valves as a solution to the effects of minimum sentence laws. The laws should remain limited in scope to prevent the implementation of fewer adverse offenders and crimes and provide the judges with the power to issue lower sentences with appropriate reasons to why the presumption may not remain applicable in a certain case.

References

Barkow, R. (2019). Categorical Mistakes: The Flawed Framework of the Armed Career Criminal Act and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing. https://harvardlawreview.org/2019/11/the-flawed-framework-of-the-armed-career-criminal-act-and-mandatory-minimum-sentencing

Dahl, A. (2014). Eric Holder's Recent Curtailment of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, Its Implications, and Prospects for Effective Reform. 29 BYU J. Pub. L. 271 https://digitalcommons.law.byu.edu/jpl/vol29/iss1/8 

Gertner, N. (2010). A Short History of American Sentencing: Too Little Law, Too Much Law, or Just Right, 100 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 691 (2010)https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=7361&context=jclc 

Luna, E. (2017). Mandatory Minimums. Criminal Justice Reform, Vol. 4https://law.asu.edu/sites/default/files/pdf/academy_for_justice/7_Criminal_Justice_Reform_Vol_4_Mandatory-Minimums.pdf 

Mauer, M. (2010). The impact of mandatory minimum penalties in federal sentencing. JUDICATURE 94(1). https://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Judicature-Impact-of-Mandatory-Minimum-Penalties-in-Federal-Sentencing.pdf 

McNeils, A. (2017). Habitually Offending the Constitution: The Cruel and Unusual Consequences of Habitual Offender Laws and Mandatory Minimums. George Mason UniversityCivilRightsLawJournal,28(1),97–126. http://sls.gmu.edu/crlj/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2019/02/GMC102_crop-1.pdf 

Download Sample Now

Earn back money you have spent on downloaded sample



Upload Document Document Unser Evaluion Get Money Into Your Wallet



Cite This work.

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below.

Urgent Homework (2021) . Retrive from http://www.urgenthomework.com/sample-homework/the-effects-of-mandatory-minimum-sentencing-laws

"." Urgent Homework ,2021, http://www.urgenthomework.com/sample-homework/the-effects-of-mandatory-minimum-sentencing-laws

Urgent Homework (2021) . Available from: http://www.urgenthomework.com/sample-homework/the-effects-of-mandatory-minimum-sentencing-laws

[Accessed 16/10/2021].

Urgent Homework . ''(Urgent Homework ,2021) http://www.urgenthomework.com/sample-homework/the-effects-of-mandatory-minimum-sentencing-laws accessed 16/10/2021.


Want a fresh copy of this Assignment

Resources

  • 24 x 7 Availability.
  • Trained and Certified Experts.
  • Deadline Guaranteed.
  • Plagiarism Free.
  • Privacy Guaranteed.
  • Free download.
  • Online help for all project.
  • Homework Help Services
Tap to Chat
Get Instant Assignment Help
Tap to Chat
Get Instant Assignment Help