Over the past 40 years U.S. incarceration has grown at an extraordinary rate, with the United States’ prison population increasing from 320,000 inmates in 1980 to nearly 2.3 million inmates in 2013. The growth in prison population is in part due to society’s shift toward tough on crime policies including determinate sentencing, truth-in-sentencing laws, and mandatory minimums. These tough on crime policies resulted in more individuals committing less serious crimes being sentenced to serve time and longer prison sentences. The 1970s-1980s: The War on Drugs and Changes in Sentencing Policy Incarceration rates did rise above 140 persons imprisoned per 100,000 of the population until the mid 1970s.
The current system that incarcerates people over and over is unsustainable and does not lower the crime rate nor encourage prisoner reformation. When non-violent, first time offenders are incarcerated alongside violent repeat offenders, their chance of recidivating can be drastically altered by their experience in prison. Alternative sentencing for non-violent drug offenders could alleviate this problem, but many current laws hinder many possible solutions. Recently lawmakers have made attempts to lower the recidivism rates in America, for example the Second Chance Act helps aid prisoners returning into society after incarceration. The act allows states to appropriate money to communities to help provide services such as education, drug treatment programs, mental health programs, job corps services, and others to aid in offenders returning to society after incarceration (Conyers, 2013).
The mandatory minimum sentencing law provides a judge with a set minimum sentences based on the charges against the defendant. The minimum sentences are usually extremely long sentences. Judges are not able to reduce the charges no matter what the defense’s argument may be. Normally in court, the defense is able to argue for a shorter sentence, but that is not the case for mandatory sentencing laws. All the power of sentencing lies with the prosecutors in these cases. Mandatory minimum sentencing policies were set into action with good intentions, but the law did not turn out as expected. The mandatory minimum sentencing acts were created to provide equality that every offender of the particular crime will serve the same punishment. This ensures that there will be no bias. They were expected to lower crime rates, because people will possibly think twice before committing a crime if the mandatory minimum sentence is five year or if they have been convicted before, they will not want to be incarcerated again for double the time. Judges cannot change the sentence. All the reasons that the mandatory minimum sentencing laws were set into place appear to be good ideas, but they are ineffective. The law has not shown crime reduction. The history of mandatory sentencing in the United states for federal drug crimes had started with the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, also known as SRA. Congress had changed sentencing by rejecting the idea or the possibility of
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which were introduced about three decades or so ago, allow judges to issue a minimum prison sentence at the discretion of the prosecutor, who determines the charges that are placed against a defendant. These laws, as outlined by the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (n.d), limit the power of the judges to make a judgment on the punishment that can be given to a defendant. The meaning being that mandatory minimums transfer the power to give sentences from the judges to the prosecutors, a scenario that is worsened by the fact that some prosecutors misuse this power. As such, mandatory minimum sentences should be repealed, particularly for the gun and drug-based offenses.
Introduction Crime, its punishment, and the legislation that decides the way in which they interact has long been a public policy concern that reaches everyone within a given society. It is the function of the judicial system to distribute punishment equitably and following the law. The four traditional goals of punishment, as defined by Connecticut General Assembly (2001), are: “deterrence, incapacitation, retribution, and rehabilitation.” However, how legislature achieves and balances these goals has changed due to the implementation of responses to changing societal influences. Mandatory minimum sentences exemplify this shift.
Untie the Judges Hands Imagine you are a fifty-one year old man and you have not eaten in two days, and you resort to theft. Stealing a fifty-cent package of doughnuts from the corner store. You are at your home when suddenly officers burst in and arrest you.
Similarly, other possible drug-related crimes, such as theft, burglary and robbery, are all extremely serious offences which carry severe penalties. However, the imposition of punitive penalties fails to adequately respond to drug-related crime. This is because punitive measures fail to address the complex nature and causes underlying the commission of drug-related offences. It has been found that after release from prison, without accessible, integrated and consistent drug treatment and support such as access to housing and employment, people with substance use issues are at higher risk of re-offending and returning to prison, or dying from a drug overdose.
Many of the prisoners are incarnated for petty drug charges or unfair sentencing as a consequence the prisons is overpopulated and causes confusion. The Three Strikes and you’re out policy will have the
The increased interest on drug policy by the United States government took a heavy toll on African Americans, as “black Americans then constituted approximately 12 percent of our country's population and 13 percent of drug users. Nevertheless, they accounted for 33 percent of all drug-related arrests, 62 percent of drug-related convictions and 70 percent of drug-related incarcerations” (Qk3). African Americans were heavily targeted during these times of increased vigilance in the past with increased focus on drug policies, as it was easier with the active laws to focus attention on African Americans because of the difference in severity of sentence length depending on the type of drug in possession. Since crack cocaine was more common among African Americans the penalty for being caught with crack cocaine was much more severe than that of the penalty for powder cocaine, which was a staple among the
In this day and age, There are five times as many people in jail as there were in the 1970s. Almost 5 percent of the population of the United States will go to prison at in point of their life. Conservatives believe that imprisonment reduces crime in two ways: it removes criminals from the public so they can not commit more crimes, and it also discourages people who would commit a crime as they consider the consequences. Unfortunately, neither of these outcomes have come to be true. In fact, mass incarceration and “tough on crime” laws have been extremely ineffective that instead of reducing crime, it increases it. There are several different ways to effectively reduce crime other than these two strategies, such as reforming certain policies
With the failure of the rehabilitation programs, the United States had to turn to the retribution model of punishment. Also at the turn of the decade into the 80’s, The War on Drugs kick started the epidemic of prison overcrowding, and launched America into a downward plunge of economic and political turmoil. The mandatory minimum sentencing policy that was in place did not help the situation either, giving long incarceration sentences to prisoners who didn’t deserve it. Criminals were given the minimum sentences for crimes, and judges carried them out precisely. Race and poverty were also side contributors that contributed to the bigger picture of the issue.
Only 18.3% (337,882) were for the sale or manufacture of a drug” (p. 23). Therefore, the individuals who are likely to enter the already overcrowded prisons may be users and the actual not distributors themselves. Thus, prison space that is intended to be reserved for murders and sexual predators is instead being occupied by substance
As I mentioned above, since the War on Drugs era, the prison population has increased at an alarming rate. Overcriminalization has most of the responsibility for this problem. Along with the overcrowding of prisons, the obstacle of overcriminalization also brings sentencing reform to the table. It puts citizens that had no criminal intent in their actions and non-violent offenders in prison for unjust lengths of time. Serving
These laws were initiated in the 1970’s and put into action in the 1980’s. Ronald Reagan made these laws after initiating a war on the production, sale, and usage of illegal drugs. These laws insist on 5 years in prison for the first drug related felony, 10 years for the next felony sentencing, and 25 to life for the third felony. A process known as the three strikes rule. This campaign for the war on drugs has dragged out into current times.
1: Drug addiction, reasons are increasing day by day. 2: However, government are trying to reduce, but it is helpless and a lot of reasons behind this poverty, poor, education, and unemployment. 3: And this drug incarceration policy should be change. 1: Prison is not giving proper guidance 2: Rehabilitation 3: Unemployment rate 1: