Essay about Negative Consequences of Mandatory Sentencing

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Negative Consequences of Mandatory Sentencing

In recent years several mandatory sentencing laws have been put into motion. The original goals of the mandatory sentencing laws were to stop repeat offenders and to exhibit a "get tough attitude" on crime. These laws have not been working as intended, instead mandatory sentencing has led to some unfortunate consequences. Some of these consequences are overcrowding in prisons and less prison based rehabilitation. Mandatory sentencing laws do not narrowly target major drug traffickers.
Today there are 100 separate federal mandatory minimums located in 60 different criminal statues. An example of mandatory sentencing is New York's Rockefeller laws which order terms extending from 15 years
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Mandatory minimums are resulting in a losing war on drugs and over crowding in the prison system. As of 1999 almost 1.8 million Americans are incarcerated. Seven times as many women since 1980 are incarcerated largely due to new mandatory sentences. (Cose) This means that thousands of children will be without mothers, and put into the system. America has reverted to locking up their problems. Overcrowding is not only a problem for the Department of Corrections (DOC) but also for the inmates. Overcrowding means less space and more violence between inmates. Overcrowded prisons also means overcrowded county jails, where state offenders will be held. Prisoners often complain of unbearably high noise levels, inadequate exercise and poor ventilation. This 1.8 million figure gave the "Land of the Free" the second highest confinement rate in the world, right behind Russia (Levitt). The criminal justice system needs to find another way to fight crime.
Mandatory sentencing laws state that a mandatory sentence must be imposed regardless of a person's role in the crime or other mitigating factors. Prosecutors, not judges, have the discretion to decide what charge to bring; whether to accept or deny a plea bargain. Mandatory sentencing is defined as: a sentence determined by statutes and requiring that a certain penalty be…