History of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: "Two years after enacting the SRA, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 (ADAA),48 which incorporated a tiered system of minimum sentences for crack, powder cocaine, and other commonly abused substances based on the quantity of the drugs involved.49 The ADAA was passed in the midst of public paranoia and outcry over the crack epidemic and the fear of AIDS being spread through drug use.50 This political climate led to broad bipartisan support for the ADAA, with the bill passing the House by a 392-16 vote and the Sena
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Data, statistics and information regarding mandatory minimum sentencing and sentencing guidelines
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:
Development of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws: "High levels of drug use and experimentation in the 1960s resulted in numerous long prison sentences under the Boggs Act.31 In 1970, Congress responded to the concerns of prosecutors, wardens, and families of those convicted, repealing virtually all provisions imposing mandatory minimum sentences for drug violations.32 Congress commented that lengthening prison sentences 'had not shown the expected overall reduction in drug law violations.'33"
"Unintended Consequences of Mandatory Minimum Sentences:
"- Significant increases in the costs of corrections due to longer prison terms and an increasing prison population;
"- Removal from consideration of other sentencing options that may prove to be less costly and/or more effective than mandatory incarceration;
"- Impact on all aspects of the criminal justice system, including pleas or verdicts and offender eligibility for rehabilitation programs and early release;
"- Limiting the discretion of the sentencing judge."
Effect of Sentence Length and Mandatory Sentencing On Recidivism: "The study by the [Pennsylvania Sentencing] Commission found that neither length of sentence nor the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence alone was related to recidivism. In the four recidivism studies conducted as part of this project, the recidivism rates (i.e., arrest for a new crime or technical violation resulting in reincarceration) three years after release were as follows: drug delivery offenders (54%), school zone offenders (57%), repeat violent offenders (54%) and firearms offenders (50%).
Unintended Consequences of Mandatory Sentencing Laws: "Mandatory minimum sentence laws appear to be contributing to increased sentence length, making more emphatic a trend in drug cases that predated their enactment. Mandatory minimum statutes and the guidelines seem also to have narrowed the difference in the sentences imposed for equally serious offenses involving marijuana and opiates, and to have red uced the importance of age and the distinction between leadership and middleman roles in the sentencing decision.
"After eleven years, it should be obvious that the system has failed and that it cannot be fixed -- even by the Supreme Court -- because the criminal justice system has been distorted: the enhanced power of the prosecutor in sentencing has diminished the traditional role of the judge. The result has been even less fairness, and a huge rise in the prison population."
Downward Departures in Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: "As previously noted, various drug offenses carry a mandatory minimum. For such offenses, the mandatory minimum precludes judges from sentencing at a lower guideline range minimum or from granting a downward departure that might otherwise be available, unless one of two statutory provisions applies.
Supreme Court Opinion in Case of US v Booker: "Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court in part, concluding that 18 U. S. C. A. §3553(b)(1), which makes the Federal Sentencing Guidelines mandatory, is incompatible with today's Sixth Amendment 'jury trial' holding and therefore must be severed and excised from the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (Act). Section 3742(e), which depends upon the Guidelines' mandatory nature, also must be severed and excised.
Effect of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws on Crime and Arrest Rates: "Though it is still too early to make a final judgment, RAND found that three strikes and truth-in-sentencing laws have had little significant impact on crime and arrest rates. According to the Uniform Crime Reports, states with neither a three strikes nor a truth-in-sentencing law had the lowest rates of index crimes, whereas index crime rates were highest in states with both types of get-tough laws."