The Expansion Of Mandatory Sentencing Penalties For Federal Crimes

835 Words Jun 30th, 2016 4 Pages
The expansion of mandatory sentencing penalties for federal crimes (especially non-violent drug crimes), which have helped catalyze the increase in the prison population, is an aspect of the criminal justice system that must be reformed. Public officials on both sides of the political spectrum support amending federal mandatory sentencing laws and in July of 2013 Congressman Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced The Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014. This legislation would lessen mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes from five, ten, and twenty year mandatory minimums to two, five, and ten years respectively, effectually reducing prison costs and populations. It would also make the Fairness in Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduces sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine from 100:1 to 18:1, retroactive. The biggest problem with mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses, which the bill aims to remedy, is the imposition of excessive and arbitrary punishments causing a massive prison population boom.

The Smarter Sentencing Act aims to gradually decrease the amount of people imprisoned by creating fairer, less costly terms for non-violent drug offenders sentencing periods for drug offenses. It reduces five, 10, and 20 year mandatory minimums to two, five, and 10 years respectively for certain drug offenses and gives judges more leeway when sentencing people who do not pose a public safety risk (“Major Sentencing Reform,” 2014). The bill has passed the Senate…

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