The existence of mandatory minimums are a major issue in the United States today. Since the implementation of Mandatory minimums, the prison population has increased 800%. This massive rise in prisoner population has come with devastating economic and human costs. The death of Len Bias, the moral panic that ensued, and corporate looking to make a profit off of it, have all culminated in the implementation of mandatory minimums. Len Bias was an American college basketball player who had just been recruited to play in the NBA, he died in 1986 due to a heart attack believed to have been caused by cocaine use.
In the 1980’s the introduction of Crack Cocaine which was much more addictive to the users and more profitable for the drug dealers than Powder Cocaine. The prompted the administration to create Reagans War on Drugs which was supposed to make a major difference in the use of illegal drugs. By giving a much stiffer penalty to drug dealers for possession an even a moderate amount of illegal drugs. The fear of jail time was going be a deterrent to reduce the sale and illegal drug use. A minimum five year jail sentence would be handed out to someone caught with 500 grams of powder cocaine or with five grams of crack cocaine.
Introduction Since the War on drugs began American has had a prison problem. The goal of this era and the tough on crime era that proceeded it the goal was to be tough on crime in order to stop it. This meant mass incarceration and hard time for offenses such as drug use (drug policy: facts). The 1990’s saw the biggest increase of the prison population with federal policies such as three strikes. Today these polices has made America the number incarcerated group in the planet despite having only 5% of the world’s population (ACLU: Prison Facts).
The issue of mass incarceration sparked conversation about racial disparities within the prison system. Following the abolishment of Jim Crow, legal racial segregation in the United States appeared dead. According to civil rights advocate, Michelle Alexander this is not the case; racial segregation appears dead, but mass incarceration perpetuates a racial caste system that preserves this outdated practice. In Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, she points to the cause, enforcement, and victims of this system, but her arguments lack the depth to stand against counterarguments.
Out of the countless systems that America has, the criminal justice system has the most complication. Many judges, lawyers, and even prisoners have views on how to improve the criminal justice system but, to be able to pin point the problems of the criminal justice system you must discern what the causes are. Most would say that the problem with the prison system is the overcrowding. A few says the sentencing causes chaos in the criminal justice system. I believe that one or the main problem with the criminal justice system is the sentencing.
Federal Policy makers have focus on “ mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking, and the length of prison sentences in general. Cutting lengths of stay 50 percent for drug trafficking offenses would reduce the federal prison population 18 percent by 2023” Ryan King, Bryce Peterson, Brian Elderbroom, and Samuel A. Taxy (October
The seemingly endless national struggle, otherwise known as the War on Drugs, has been around for decades; with policies being enacted hoping to end this epidemic. But after numerous failed attempts, officials have hit a wall in the fact that they don’t know what else they can do to end it. If history has taught America anything at all, it is that it repeats itself, as shown by Prohibition; which made alcohol illegal during the Great Depression. This begs the question: Why are officials so set on prohibiting the use of drugs when history has proven its’ effects?
“A good first step forward is to start treating prisoners as a human being, not profiting from their incarceration.” ( Bernie Sanders). The prison system is only thinking about money because they don't care the effect it has in people's life when they are sentenced unfairly. The U.S Prison system is unfair, and two of the most important aspects to understand about it are the war on drugs and racism. One important aspect of the U.S Prison system is the war on drugs and how they go to jail for an unreasonable amount of time for having a small amount of drugs on them and when they have to go to prison it affects the prisoner's family.
For everything in life there is a consequence. Growing up we learn how those consequences can vary. These consequences can start very small, starting as a child we learn not to touch the stove or else we might get burned, or to respect our parents otherwise we would get a timeout where we would have to think about our actions that got us the punishment. Whatever punishment it was, they all had one thing in common. And that thing is the fact that we learned from our mistakes.
Suppose you are asked to a favor for someone you know, and in return you would be fairly compensated. This favor includes the delivery of a heavy luggage bag to a location where someone will take it from you. Pretty easy favor to get paid for, right? Well this favor could have you facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in the federal prison system. Contained in the bag was 10 kilos of powdered cocaine.
Statistics prove that Mandatory Minimums affect minorities disproportionately. In fact, African Americans are over 10 times more likely to enter prison for drug offenses than their Caucasian counterparts despite both racial groups using drugs in equal amounts. This shows the racial bias of the Justice System at work by using Mandatory Minimums to punish minorities with harsher sentences. Blacks and Hispanics make up 74.4 percent of the people convicted of drug charges while only making up less than 30 percent of the population. Indicative of this widespread problem, 39.4 percent of convictions in 2011 involved Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (United States Sentencing Commission 148).
America makes up a total of five percent of the world’s population, but our incarcerated population makes up twenty-five percent of the world’s incarcerated population. I learned this statistic one day prior to our lecture on drugs in my pre-law class while discussing criminal law. The War on Drugs agenda pushed by President Nixon has created barriers for people who are incarcerated because of mandatory minimums in prisons and then the difficulty of rebuilding your life once out. This means that because of a minor drug offense someone can be in prison for a lengthy time leading to overcrowding in prisons and more money for outsourced prison companies who make a profit off of prison labor and the system itself. Before this lecture, I had the very simple view of “Do not commit crimes and you will not get arrested.”