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.
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 requires a minimum sentence based on the crime that the offender committed (Levinthal, 2012). The majority of the laws involved illicit drug activity and is based on the amount of the substance that was in the individual’s possession. Unlike general sentencing, the judge involved in the mandatory minimum sentencing must follow strict guidelines that are provided. The judge cannot decrease the term of the sentence, no matter the circumstances that are involved in the matter. However, depending on the severity of the crime involved, the judge can decide to increase the sentence if it is determined that the factors require more than the minimum (Dahl, 2014).
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 As such, mandatory minimum sentences should be repealed, particularly for the gun and drug-based offenses. Mandatory Minimum Sentence Laws Foster Uncontrolled Prosecutorial Discretion Evils Prosecutors do not get the training on how to sentence, meaning that if they do, they will not conduct the activity with utmost transparency (Bernick & Larkin, 2014).
To fully understand the sentencing phase of criminal court proceedings, it is important to examine how sentencing affects the state and federal prison systems, learn the meanings of determinate and indeterminate sentencing, and understand the impact Proposition 57 has had on sentencing in California. How Sentencing Affects the State and Federal Prison Systems The United States
Mandatory minimum sentences were established as the response to complaints from politicians and the public that offenders weren’t serving long enough terms for their convictions. These sentences stipulate a minimum period of incarceration that people convicted of selected crimes must serve (p.80). Mandatory minimum sentences apply primarily to drug offenses, murder, aggravated rape, felonies involving firearms, and felonies committed by people who have previous felony convictions (4). An example of a mandatory sentencing is the three-strikes laws. Under these laws, the judge is required to sentence offenders to long prison terms if they have three felony convictions, sometimes they are sentenced to life without parole.
(citizensinformation.ie, 2014) 2. Maximum sentence The law has maximum sentences for all crimes. A maximum sentence is used by a judge to decide what sentence he is going to give to the criminal. An example of this is when a person has been found guilty of violent disorder can only receive a maximum of 10 years in prison (C. Quirke, 2018) 3. Minimum sentence Recidivism: This is when an inmate returns committing illegal activity after their release from prison.
Private prisons tend not to house costlier inmates, due to the higher cost of supervising them. Scott Merryman states that, from 1990 to 1995, the overwhelming numbers of inmates in private facilities were classified as minimum-security, and this condition is still relevant today. Public prisons consist of twenty percent maximum-security inmates compared to the five percent in private prisons. Also, public prisons have thirty-five percent of their inmates in minimum-security, while the private prisons have sixty-five percent of their inmates in minimum-security. There are states that have private prisons that choose not to have any high maximum-security inmates at all.
It has called for the establishment of “unjustly harsh” mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and it has done the exact opposite of its original intended purpose. It has not helped the American people it has crippled them, it has crippled our economy, and it has been straining our police departments with dealing with nonviolent drug crimes. The War on Drugs has been a failure to the American people for its effect on Blacks, its creation of unjust sentencing laws, and its inability to achieve what it was meant
Life imprisonment does not ensure that the criminal does such crimes again. The criminal can commit the same crimes are much worse escape and go on a killing spree , although these are not always considered it can happen. In the article “Death Penalty Vs. Life In Prison” published by Opinion Front it stated “criminals consider their odds before taking someone's life. The fact that most criminals who have been sentenced to death appeal for life imprisonment, itself shows that they fear death more than life in prison”. As long as the criminal is still alive, they are still capable of killing or hurting someone .