Wednesday, January 30, 2013

mandatory minimums drive the sentences of even those who aren't given a mandatory minimum

As I read The Federal Prison Population Buildup: Overview, Policy Changes, Issues, and Options, a report from the Congressional Research Service released January 22, 2013, I see this: 
The number of mandatory minimum penalties in the federal code expanded as Congress made more offenses subject to such penalties. The USSC [United States Sentencing Commission] reported that the number of mandatory minimum penalties in the federal criminal code nearly doubled from 98 in 1991 to 195 in 2011. Not only has there been an increase in the number of federal offenses that carry a mandatory minimum penalty, but offenders who are convicted of offenses with mandatory minimums are being sent to prison for longer periods. For example, the USSC found that, compared to FY1990 (43.6%), a larger proportion of defendants convicted of offenses that carried a mandatory minimum penalty in FY2010 (55.5%) were convicted of offenses that carried a mandatory minimum penalty of five years or more.
While only offenders convicted for an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty are subject to those penalties, mandatory minimum penalties have, in effect, increased sentences for other offenders.
More crimes are subject to mandatory minimum sentencing and even those crimes that don't carry a MM are getting longer sentences in order to keep those sentences in proportion to the MMs.
...nearly 30,000 in FY1995 and approximately 80,000 in FY2010 were actually subject to a mandatory minimum penalty.However, over the same time period there was a similar rate of growth in the number of inmates in federal prison who were not convicted of an offense that carried a mandatory minimum. In FY1995, nearly 32,000 inmates in federal prison were convicted of an offense that did not carry a mandatory minimum.This increased 152%, to approximately 80,000 inmates , by FY2010.  (My emphasis.)
Hmmm. My husband was offered a choice of risking the mandatory minimum by going to trial or taking the plea agreement. As so many do, he chose the plea agreement and pled guilty to possession, a felony which doesn't carry a mandatory minimum. 

I would bet the increase in the number of inmates convicted of offenses that don't carry mandatory minimums is a result of defendants accepting similar plea agreements. 

I'll keep reading.

Hat tip:

1 comment:

Marie said...
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