Mandatory Sentencing

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  • Topic: Prison, Mandatory sentencing, Penology
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  • Published : April 20, 2009
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CRJ 100
Mandatory Sentencing
Kimberly Manjarres
Arizona State University

There are many things that are uncertain in life. If there are clouds in the sky, does that mean it’s going to rain today? If you’re going to get into a car accident on the way to work? No matter what uncertainties we face in life, the Legislature has taken away some uncertainties with mandatory sentencing.

Mandatory sentencing can be traced as far back as the biblical times with “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” Exodus 21:23-27. This is interpreted to mean that if a person commits a crime against another then they should suffer the same fate. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same laws that once existed when Jesus was walking the earth. Although many people believe that if a crime is committed, no matter what circumstances exists, regardless of race, ethnicity or wealth, the laws should apply equally to all. Thus leading us to support the push for mandatory sentencing. Mandatory sentencing is a predetermined punishment for specific crimes that takes the discretion of sentencing out of the judge’s hands. (Senna & Siegel, 2008) Mandatory sentencing forces a judge to deliver the same punishment to all offenders charged with the same crime no matter what mitigating or aggravating factors exist in the case. Someone should not receive special treatment or a more lenient sentence over someone else who committed the same crime for any reason. Many people believed this was happening quite frequently in the days of Al Capone when corruption was high among government officials which began with the police and trickled it’s way to the judges.

Mandatory sentencing began in 1951 with Congress’ response to the war on drugs was the enactment of the Boggs Act. The Boggs Act didn’t distinguish between the dealers, suppliers or the homeless addicts but rather mandated a prison term of two to five years for a simple first time possession of illegal drugs. (Smith, 2008)...
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