Mandatory Minimum Sentences During Early American History Essay

2283 Words Nov 22nd, 2016 10 Pages
Mandatory minimum sentences emerged in early American history as a proactive way to deter violent and rigorous crimes such as homicides, rape, and treason. Mandatory minimum sentences refer to fixed penalties and laws for offenders who commit particular crimes. These federal laws are set by Congress and do not allow judges to impose a sentence lower than what has been established. These sentences served the purpose of diminishing unlimited judge discretion and consequently lead to the limitation and even elimination of judicial discretion in sentencing. For example, an individual caught with or selling 50 grams of crack cocaine will automatically receive a 10-year federal mandatory sentence, regardless if they had no prior convictions or if it was their first offense. The type of drug and the weight is basically the only factor that determines what the prison sentence will be. These type of federal mandatory minimum sentences also give no capacity for parole.
Throughout the years, mandatory minimum sentencing laws have gone through fundamental changes and reforms. There have been numerous back and forth arguments over the addition of mandatory minimum sentences and the use of unlimited judge discretion. For many years, judges had the choice of using their discretion to decide what penalty an individual could receive. Congress, then started to limit that judicial power in order to deter people from engaging in street crime, violent crime, and drug dealing and in order to…

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