Mandatory minimum sentencing laws call for harsh prison terms of a particular length, for people convicted of certain state and federal crimes. Mandatory minimum sentencing may seem like the ideal solution for criminal activity, but it is actually a miscarriage of justice in many cases. It prevents judges around the country from giving a fair sentences to people convicted of various offenses. These laws are the primary reason the population in state and federal prisons continues to increase, and has led to prison overcrowding and a high cost to American taxpayers.
What Are They Used For?
Many mandatory minimum sentences apply to many kinds of drug offenses, but Congress has used them for other crimes such as child pornography, economic offenses, and offenses involving firearms. Public defenders and private firms like Keyser Defense attorneys have been able to successfully defend drug related crimes, but many others still fail due to these strict laws. Many states have mandatory sentencing laws, but some have begun to change them. This is great news for many prisoners that deserve a second chance at becoming a productive citizen.
What Needs to Change?
Many critics of mandatory minimum sentencing laws feel they are biased and unjust and by changing these harsh laws, it will lower the prison population. Many also feel the economy will improve once ex-offenders enter the American workforce. Increasing the American work-force will help lower the amount of jobs being shipped overseas, and many times offenders have diverse skill sets that can be used by many industrial companies around the country.
Mandatory minimum sentencing also plays a big role in ex-offenders getting a job. Unfortunately, many prospective employers are tentative about hiring ex-offenders. President Obama and his cabinet officials are working on solutions that will help ex-offenders get employed, despite their criminal background. The President has received favorable press for releasing offenders that are victims of mandatory minimum sentencing laws and is currently still working on other plans to pardon and help those getting out of these sentences soon.
What’s Being Done?
The Department of Justice has announced it will refine its charging policies on mandatory minimums for certain low-level drug offenses that fall in the non-violent category. These policy changes are part of the DOJ’s “Smart on Crime” initiative. This new initiative focuses on ensuring that federal laws are enforced fairly in every state. This new initiative will also address the concerns of federal resources being used more efficiently.
Fortunately, the Department of Justice and the White House will continue to make strides in making major changes to mandatory sentencing laws. Their earnest efforts will hopefully give prisoners an opportunity to get a respectable job and be reunited with their families. Their efforts will also help to ease the financial burden taxpayers have dealt with for nearly thirty years as a result of these laws.