Prison Blues : How America 's Foolish Sentencing Policies Endanger Public Safety

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POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS It has been established that the current policy does not work as it was intended to, so thus it must be changed. William Rehnquist, a former Supreme Court Justice, stated his opinion of minimum sentencing during an often cited speech. As stated in his book Prison blues: How America 's Foolish Sentencing Policies Endanger Public Safety, David Kopek credits Rehnquist with stating: These mandatory minimum sentences are perhaps a good example of the law of unintended consequences. There is a respectable body of opinion which believes that these mandatory minimums impose unduly harsh punishment for first-time offenders -- particularly for 'mules ' who played only a minor role in a drug distribution scheme. Be that as…show more content…
(Kopel, 1994) Rehnquist, a judge himself at this point, believes that mandatory sentencing is the result of knee jerk reactions from legislators. Not only that, but the sentences are unusually harsh on first time offenders, a group which is usually offered some form of leniency in light of the fact that they are not habitual offenders. Rehnquist argues that a better policy would be to return to former guidelines. This is the stance this policy seeks to take. That having such inflexible rules on sentencing does not account for the all the variables that are involved in a the legal process, such as the age of offender, past criminal history, mitigating circumstances and other factors that experienced judges would know to take into account when handing down sentences. Again, on the Rehnquist did mention politicians and efforts to be “tough on crime.” One such man was Ronald Reagan who criticized those who would lessen punishment for criminal offenders, no matter what the crime. In his 1985 State of the Union Address to Congress Reagan stated: One does not have to be attacked to be a victim. The woman who must run to her car after shopping at night is a victim, as is the tired cleaning woman who can 't ride a subway home without being afraid. We do not seek to violate the rights of defendants. But shouldn 't we feel more compassion for the victims of crime than for those who commit crime? For the first time in 20 years, the crime index has fallen 2 years in a
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