For my blog I wanted to tie race and social class into mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are ultimately a set minimum sentence you have to serve regardless of the circumstances. This sentencing law prohibits any and all leniency from judges. No matter how small the crime is, whether or not you have a family, or even if its your first offense if it falls under the mandatory minimum sentence laws you must serve the time set for it. Majority of the mandatory minimum sentences apply to drug offenses, but some of the other crimes it applies to are possession of certain guns, pornography, and economic offenses in some circumstances. Another popular form of mandatory minimum sentencing comes from the three strikes law. For this law you have three strikes, commit two of them then on the third one you will face a specific minimum sentence for your felony. Similarly to mandatory minimum sentencing, the judge is not allowed to shorten the sentence no matter how small the third crime is.
What is a better method of deterrence compared to mandatory minimum sentencing?
Do you think mandatory minimum sentencing was made to help the society or to hurt it?
Should judges have more input to cases regarding mandatory minimum?
Are mandatory minimum laws effective or ineffective?
In regards to race, in 2011 Hispanic accounted for 38.3% of offenders convicted for a mandatory minimum penalty, while African Americans had 31.5%, Whites had 27.4%, and other races composed of 2.7%. When these men and women are sentenced to prison, they often leave behind jobs they had, spouses, and children. When things as such occur due to mandatory minimum sentence, their absence does not go unnoticed. The significant other is stuck raising a family struggling which is where social class comes into play. Anyone could be effected by mandatory minimum sentencing, it hit African Americans and other races much harder due to the circumstances. At the time the crack cocaine disparity was at 1-100 ratio. Meaning you could have this tiny amount of crack and get a high sentence when a person with cocaine could have a higher amount and get less or no charge. This applied to race in the sense that African Americans and people from the low class were purchasing crack because it was cheap and primarily white and upper class were purchasing cocaine which was the same thing but not condensed. This issue continued to spiral out of control and as times got harder and black unemployment rates increased, people looked for quick easy money which usually involved buying and selling drugs. Seeing how many individuals relied on selling drugs and ultimately ended up in the system, as mentioned earlier families truly suffered. Seeing how the head of household role was commonly empty because a mother or father could easily be imprisoned youth felt obligated to take on their role and would often do the same things their parents did for money.
Mandatory minimum sentencing is so strange to me. Like someone could commit all these off the wall crimes like kidnapping, assault, and everything else bad but their sentence could be less than an individual that had the smallest amount of drugs due to mandatory minimum sentencing. What’s really crazy is how marijuana is commonly recreational and legal and for countries and people are serving ridiculous sentences due to the mandatory minimum laws. It would be ideal for offenders to have the opportunity to plea their case to an organization or something and give them the chance to be released especially if it was their first offense. Mandatory minimum isn’t doing anything but over populating prisons honestly. The U.S. prison population has grown by almost 800% since the 1980’s. That being said, there’s no reason to not regulate use of drugs but perhaps give judges their discretion of reasonable sentences that are appropriate for their crime.
Picture Source1: “The Nation’s shame: The injustice of mandatory minimums”
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-nations-shame-the-injustice-of-mandatory-minimums-20141007Picture Source2: “Reducing racial disparities in drug sentencing: an analysis of the fair sentencing act, 2015” http://blackwallstreetbooks.squarespace.com/ceo-blog/drugsentencingracialdisparaties