The initial thinking behind the creation of minimum mandatory sentences was created by congress to aim in the capture and imprisonment of high level drug traffickers, and deter others from entering into drug trafficking or using illegal substances, which would create a safer society. However, the nation prison has been expanded with low level street drug dealers, and the accessibility to illegal drugs is more obtainable then before the enactment of the mandatory sentencing act. In fact, the number of drug offenders in federal prisons has increased 21 times since 1980. Contrary to what congress has believed in the past about the dangers of crack cocaine compared to that in powder form has been proven to be untrue, but little has been done to reduce the number of prisons affected by that belief. More interestingly, the drugs that are more common to be either produce, used or sold by African-Americans are given harsher penalties than drugs that are often used by the white population such as powder cocaine. Which has in turn, greatly contributes to the high incarceration rates among blacks, and the discretions of sentences given to blacks over other races.
The heightened prison population has affected the taxpayers. Due to a …show more content…
In fact the data shown that half of the drug offenses of offenders involved crack cocaine, followed by marijuana offenses. The Bureau of Prisons has reviled that well over 70% of the recent prison growth is related to the mandatory minimum sentencing. As of today only 3 percent of federal cases ever go to trial. Many prosecutors use the threat of mandatory minimums to coerce guilty pleas and longer sentences to offenders, or use the small street dealer to build a case against the leaders of the criminal
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According to the article, The Drug War, Mass Incarceration, and Race “ Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population,10 and are consistently documented by the U.S. government to use drugs at similar rates to people of other races.11 But black people comprise 31 percent of those arrested for drug law violations,12 and nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated”. Despite the fact that colored people are minorities in the country still, make up 1/3 of the people arrested because of the drug policy. The policy effective created to target the minorities by making the cocaine the main focus of the drug. “America of the poor, where, amid hopelessness and lack of education, people will suffer the worst consequences of cocaine”(Kerr, 1) which in many poor communities lived the colored minorities, this made it easier for the police officer to target and arrest the
In the past 40 years, drug offenses have been on the rise as a priority offense. According to Prison Policy, 1 in 5 incarcerated inmates are locked up for a drug offense. At the same time, black people make up 40% of the prison/jail population, which is more than the white population of 39%. Considering that black people only make up 13% of the nation, this disproportionate rate of black people being arrested is quite evident. Conversely, when it comes to drugs, black people are the highest demographic arrested for drug offenses, even though all races and ethnicities sell drugs at very similar rates.
One of the major causes of the mass incarceration epidemic has been the War on Drugs, which was officially declared by President Nixon in the 1970s. Alexander notes that, despite the White House’s aggressive rhetoric, the 1960s and 1970s were a period of relatively low drug-related crime. In the forty years since the War on Drugs began, it is overwhelmingly young black men who have been arrested, convicted, and incarcerated. The racial disparity in the criminal justice system does not correspond to actual rates of drug use between blacks and whites; in reality, it is due to a legal framework that allows law enforcement to target minorities (e.g., racial profiling and stop-and-frisk) and harsh prison sentences for minor drug offenses (e.g., mandatory minimum drug sentences and three-strikes laws). As our criminal justice system offers little to incarcerated individuals in terms of rehabilitation,
Due to the fact that drug courts are working to reduce crime, the policies and practices of the US government may have to be changed or strengthened in favor of drug courts. For example, in the Journal Do Drug Courts Work? Getting Inside the Drug Court Black Box (Goldkamp, White, Robinson, 2001), the authors say “Nevertheless, these findings also suggest that variation in drug court out comes may be explained by changes in the operation of the drug court and its ability to deliver the treatment and deterrent effects postulated by the collection of components inside the drug court black box”. This clearly shows that in order for drug courts to work and grow in numbers, changes in policies and procedures that are shown to reduce crime need to be implemented everywhere. Weaknesses that can be found in this summary are that all active drug courts in the US did not respond, which could lead to a very different outcome involving the effectiveness of drug courts as a
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.
In 1989, officials in Miami-Dade County, Florida established the nation’s first drug court. This special court was designed to bring drug treatment more fully into the criminal justice system, treating offenders with a history of drug abuse for their addiction, while simultaneously ensuring supervision, and sanctions when needed, from the courts. The movement for an alternative court to sentence drug offenders emerged from the rapidly evolving reality that the nation’s decision to address drug abuse through law enforcement mechanisms would continue to pose significant challenges for the criminal court system. In 2004, 53% of persons in state prison were identified with a drug dependence or abuse problem, but only 15% were receiving professional
With the economy in the turmoil that it is in America cannot continue to support these sentencing guidelines. The Mandatory Article Sentencing declares that the laws are becoming a huge drain on the Justice Bureau’s budget, and in 2012 the United States had far beyond more people incarcerated than any other country. Most of these prisoners are low-level drug offenders sentenced under mandatory sentencing guidelines with a cost draining on American taxpayers $6.8 billion a year, as of 2012. These costs do not seem to have a ceiling and continue eating up about twenty-five percent of the federal justice system’s yearly budget.
An 18 year old first time offender caught with less than two ounces of cocaine received a 10 year sentence. A 46 year old father of three who sold some of his painkillers to someone he thought was his friend, received a 25 year sentence. In 2006 37.5% of all state and federal prisoners were black. One in 33 african american men were in jail, compared to one in 205 white men and one in 79 hispanic men.
Like it is mentioned in the movie 13th “The so called war on drugs was a war on communities of color”. So, now black people are being arrested much more than White people even though the drug use is close to the same as Angela F. Chan points out in her article for the Huffington Post. “Even though Black people use drugs at the same rate as White people, they are incarcerated for drug crimes at 20 to 50 times the rate of White people in some states”. A law that was passed during the war on drugs was mandatory sentencing.
Over the course of history several laws have been instilled to increase incarceration rates and preserve them. Beginning with Jim Crow Laws between 1876-1965 which were heavily enforced by police, if they weren’t conducted any black men or women would be thrown in prison along with any activist. President Richard Nixon ran from 1969-1997 declaring a “war on drugs”. In his speech he mentioned, “The problem has assumed the dimensions of a national emergency” (Nixon, Special Message to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control). These words suggested a state of national emergency conversely meaning a crisis that involves the countries security and safety.
Defined as a public policy that imposes an outlined amount of prison time based on the crime committed and the defendant’s criminal history, these sentences dictate that a judge must enact a statutory fixed penalty on individuals convicted of certain crimes, regardless of extenuating circumstances. Such laws have removed discretionary sentencing power from judges, instead focusing on severe punishments in line with national drug and crime concerns. While the original goal of mandatory minimum sentences was to deter potential criminals, reduce drug use, control judicial prudence, the policy has had extreme consequences such as sentencing imbalances and
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).
As of September 26, 2015, there is a total of 93,821 inmates in prison for drug offenses, which is equivalent to 48.4 percent of the prison population. The use of illegal narcotics has been an issue within the country for decades; however, is incarceration the way to solve this problem? I think not. During the late 1960’s, poverty was a substantial issue within urban cities and secluded rural areas. On the other hand, recreational drug usage promoted by fashionable young, white Americans as a symbol of social upheaval and youthful rebellion coincided with the deprivation within many of these areas.
Longer sentences can also lead to overcrowding, which prevents prisoners access to rehabilitative programs have have a greater chance that mental health issues will worsen for these prisoners. Many other states have create similar innovative programs to lower incarceration and crime rates. Legislation in Texas for example provided $241 million dollars to develop many different alternatives to prison, including additional substance abuse treatment beds, drug courts, and mental illness treatment programs. Another state is South Carolina, who put an end to its mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession and also expanded prison alternative and parole eligibility. Similar to this, the state of New Jersey lowered its prison population by upgrading its parole process and putting an increase on how flexible sentencing of low-level drug offenders is.
isn’t the only thing people believe needs to change; the reasons for arrests have been criticized by many. America incarcerates more citizens for drug related crimes than any other place in the world. Of the roughly 200,000 in federal prison, 52% are being held for drug crimes and only 8% are for violent crimes, such as: murder, assault, and robbery (Waldman, 2013). Many believe that the “War on Drugs” must become less aggressive because of its large contribution to the prison population. The distribution of prisoners by race has also raised concern among Americans.