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NCJ Number: NCJ 161839     Find in a Library
Title: Key Legislative Issues in Criminal Justice: Mandatory Sentencing
  Document URL: Text PDF 
Author(s): D Parent ; T Dunworth ; D McDonald ; W Rhodes
Corporate Author: Abt Associates, Inc
United States of America
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 6
  Series: NIJ Research in Action
  Annotation: Mandatory sentencing enhancements, including the widely debated three-strikes laws, aim to deter known and potentially violent offenders and incapacitate convicted criminals through long-term incarceration, and the impact and effectiveness of mandatory sentencing are discussed.
Abstract: Studies have described a number of consequences of mandatory sentencing laws. For example, study findings indicate that arrest rates, indictments, plea bargains, and convictions decline after mandatory sentencing laws go into effect, while early dismissals, early diversions, trial rates, and sentencing delays increase. The net probability that offenders will be imprisoned is not affected by mandatory sentencing laws, but sentence length increases for those who are imprisoned. Studies of sentencing practices in Federal courts provide no compelling evidence that judges unfairly apply mandatory minimum sentences to racial and ethnic minorities, although blacks receive longer sentences than whites in Federal courts according to one study because they constitute the majority of those convicted of crack cocaine trafficking. Studies indicate that three-strikes laws are costly. In particular, a study of California's statute projects that the law will increase the prison population over the next 25 years by a factor of three, increase costs during the same period by $5.5 billion yearly, and reduce serious crime by 28 percent at a total correctional cost of approximately $16,300 per crime averted. An alternative to mandatory sentences is the use of presumptive sentences. Other recommendations include directing mandatory sentencing laws only at a few especially serious crimes, subjecting long mandatory sentences to periodic administrative review, including a funding plan in sentencing legislation to ensure awareness of and responsibility for long-term costs, and developing policies that effectively and systematically use intermediate sanctions. 15 notes
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): Cocaine ; Black/African Americans ; Federal courts ; State laws ; Caucasian/White Americans ; Incarceration and Imprisonment ; Sentencing disparity ; Drug offenders ; Presumptive sentences ; Corrections effectiveness ; Time served in corrections ; Corrections costs ; Sentence effectiveness ; Black/White Crime Comparisons ; Crack ; Foreign criminal codes ; California
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
US Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
United States of America

US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
United States of America
Contract Number: 94-IJ-CX-C007
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Country: United States of America
Language: English
Note: NIJ Research in Action, November 1996
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