Mandatory Minimums

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Pages: 5

Mandatory Minimums and its effect on Judicial Discretion Introduction
Court is like a dysfunctional family. Defense attorneys and prosecutors are the bickering siblings at the dinner table. At the head? The unbiased parent, or in this case, the judge. The role of a judge as defined by the American Bar Association, is to make sure that the rules of the court procedures are being followed by both parties and remain unbiased in court. But, what happens when judges have to abide by United States Sentencing Guidelines and impose mandatory minimums? Will the sentence delivered be fair enough where justice is served? Or will the sentence add to the growing number of inmates in state and federal prisons, thus augmenting the issue of overcrowded
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The purpose of imposing such guidelines was to reduce the amount of racial disparities in federal sentencing but may have done the opposite. Judges may be influenced by different factors like biases and stereotypes which will impose racial disparities and discrimination.
This article looks at cases like Rita v. United States, Gall v. United States, and United States v. Kimbrough, which they further referenced as RGK. RGK was the start of increased mandatory minimums on offenders, but they could not attribute it to the use of discretion utilized by judges. Racial disparities did however increase after the implementation of the USSG or United States Sentencing Guidelines. Booker v. United States was the court case that set all of this in motion. In 2005, there was a defendant that received a prison sentence of up to 262 months. At the sentencing, the judge was presented with more facts, leading the sentence to be increased by up to eight years and two months, violating the sixth
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United States case was that of a drug trafficker dealing crack cocaine receiving the same sentence as someone that deals one hundred times more cocaine (powder). If he had only plead guilty to possession of powder cocaine instead of the four different offenses that he did plead guilty to, his time in prison would have been much shorter.
Above The Law RedLine’s article “John Oliver Explain Everything Wrong With Mandatory Minimums” features a video from ‘Last Week Tonight’ where Oliver scrutinizes the concept of mandatory minimums. His segment highlights a man named Kevin Ott who is serving life for trafficking no more than three ounces of methamphetamine to which Oliver characterizes as insane.
“The 1980s Called. They Want Their Mandatory Minimums Back.” This article by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) explores the costly effect that mandatory minimums have on taxpayers and prisons. Authors Jesselyn McCurdy from the ACLU Washington Legislative Office and Sarah Solon a Communications Strategist for the ACLU write that mass incarceration is already a major issue and mandatory minimums feed into that, making the problem worse. According to them, in 2010, it cost taxpayers $80 billion dollars to fund the incarceration of 2.3 million people in America. The authors also believe that the decision for how long someone should be incarcerated should be left up to the judges, and the judges