Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Essay

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Mandatory minimum sentencing was first enacted in the Boggs Act of 1951. This act made a first time cannabis possession offense a minimum of two to ten years with a fine up to $20,000. However, Congress repealed the Boggs Act of 1951 for mandatory penalties for cannabis offense in 1970. Sixteen years later in 1986, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. With the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, mandatory minimum sentences for drugs were enacted and enforced. This act was passed with the intention to end the “war on drugs”. Therefore, many states and the federal started to adopt laws that required judges to impose long sentences on anyone caught with certain amounts of illegal drugs, regardless of the circumstances (Savage). However, recently, crime rates have been decreasing in nearly all major urban areas; therefore, society’s view on mandatory minimum sentencing has decreased.…show more content…
However, over time, mandatory minimum sentencing has been abused by the court system. The power of discretion shifts from the judges to the prosecutors. The prosecutors get to decide what charges to bring against the defendant. This gives the prosecutors the chance to “stack the deck” , which is over-charging a defendant in order to get them to plead guilty. This creates an environment of coercion. Low-level criminals should not be threatened with high-level mandatory sentences. The low-level criminals would say or do almost anything to get out of spending many years in prison. In my opinion, it should be the role of a judge, not the prosecutor, to give discretion to the case. Judges and juries should conduct sentencing, not by an act passed by Congress. Everyone is entitled to a fair and just trial. By having mandatory minimum sentencing, the punishment for the crime is already set in stone. Each case is not handled in an independent manner, therefore not making it a fair

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