History of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

"The movement towards the current state of sentencing for federal drug crimes began with the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (SRA).35 In passing the SRA, a bipartisan Congress fundamentally changed sentencing by rejecting the rehabilitation model of punishment.36 The Act announced new objectives:
(A) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense; (B) to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct; (C) to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and (D) to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner.37
"A revolutionary feature of the SRA was its creation of the United States Sentencing Commission, an independent expert panel within the judicial branch charged with refining sentencing.38"

Source: 

Mascharka, Christopher, "Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Exemplifying the Law of Unintended Consequences," Florida State University Law Review (Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University, Summer 2001) Volume 28, Number 4, p. 939-940.
http://www.law.fsu.edu/journal...

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