Harsher Sentencing for Drug Offenders
"Along with the stepped-up pace of arrests in the 1980s, legislatures throughout the country adopted harsher sentencing laws in regard to drug offenses. The federal system, in particular, led the way with the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. Among a number of provisions, these laws created a host of severe mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses and affected the calibration of the federal Sentencing Guidelines, which were being formulated simultaneous to these statutory changes. The result of these developments was to remove discretion from the sentencing judge to consider the range of factors pertaining to the individual and the offense that would normally be an integral aspect of the sentencing process, thereby increasing the number of individuals in federal court exposed to a term of incarceration for a drug offense."
Mauer, Marc and King, Ryan S., "A 25-Year Quagmire: The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society" The Sentencing Project (Washington, DC: September 2007), p. 7.