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Mandatory sentencing

This paper does a great job in explaining how your criminal justice system can greatly reduce incarceration while ensuring community safety. "We [the authors] argue that states should reevaluate their policy choices and reduce the scope and severity of several of the sentencing practices that they have implemented over the past twenty-five or thirty years. We propose that states introduce a greater degree of discretion into their sentencing and parole practices through two specific reforms: (1) a reduction in the scope and severity of truth-in-sentencing laws that mandate that inmates serve minimum proportions of their sentences, and (2) a reworking and, in many instances, abandonment of mandatory minimum sentences. We also propose that states create incentives for localities to limit their use of state prison systems" (p. 2). Five chapters follow an abstract: introduction; mass incarceration in the United States; a proposal to reduce incarceration through smarter use of prisons; questions and concerns; and conclusion.

A New Approach to Reducing Incarceration While Maintaining Low Rates of Crime Cover

“Since 2000, at least 29 states have taken steps to roll back mandatory sentences, with 32 bills passed in just the last five years. Most legislative activity has focused on adjusting penalties for nonviolent drug offenses through the use of one or a combination of the following reform approaches: 1) expanding judicial discretion through the creation of so-called “safety value” provisions, 2) limiting automatic sentence enhancements, and 3) repealing or revising mandatory minimum sentences. In this policy report, Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections summarizes state-level mandatory sentencing reforms since 2000, raises questions about their impact, and offers recommendations to jurisdictions considering similar efforts.” This report contains these sections: introduction; background; new approaches to mandatory sentences; the impact of reforms; research and policy considerations; and future directions.

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“This report assesses the impact of mandatory minimum penalties on federal sentencing, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in “Booker v. United States”, which rendered the federal sentencing guidelines advisory” (p. xxv). Twelve chapters follow an executive summary: overview; history of mandatory minimum penalties and statutory relief mechanisms; the interaction between mandatory minimum penalties and the sentencing guidelines; changes in the federal criminal justice system, mandatory minimum penalties, and the federal prison populations; policy views about mandatory minimum penalties; the use of mandatory minimum penalties in 13 selected districts; statistical overview of mandatory minimum penalties; mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses; mandatory minimum penalties for firearm offenses; mandatory minimum penalties for sex offenses; mandatory minimum penalties for identity theft offenses; and conclusions and recommendations. Of those individuals sentenced in federal courts during fiscal year 2010, 27.2% where convicted of a crime associated with a mandatory minimum penalty, with 77.4% of these being for drug trafficking offenses.

2017 Overview of Mandatory Minimum Penalties in the Federal Criminal Justice System Cover
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