Pros And Cons Of Mandatory Sentencing

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Over the last 40 years, we have spent trillions of dollars on the failed and ineffective War on Drugs (Aclu). Drug use has not declined and drug markets are become more resilient to the mass incarceration of drug offenders. There is always another drug dealer standing by, ready to replace the one who has been sent to prison. Along with the War on Drugs, the changes in sentencing policies contributed to higher levels of incarceration at both the state and federal levels. 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. However, research shows that mandatory minimum sentences and three strikes laws have little or no effect on reducing crime rates. But there is substantial evidence that they made sentences much longer, prison populations much larger, and incarceration rates much higher (4). For example, in
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