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1984. That law did not withdraw all sentencing discretion from district courts; it did, however, establish the United States Sentencing Commission” (Bernick). Bernick states that the true originof both the social problem and the controversy began with the Sentencing Reform act of 1984 and the creation of the United States Sentencing Commission, a political entity that remains steadfast in their support for mandatory minimums to this day (Bernick). Only two years later, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 in response to the rising crack epidemic, which had contributed to crime rates in the late eighties and early nineties (Bernick). This act is alarge part of the contentious nature of the issue today.Proponents like FAMM argue that these laws are irrelevant and detrimental to the accused because crime rates have decreased significantly since the late eighties (“Why Should I Care”?). According to Bernick, after 1986, the number of crimes that were to be punished by mandatory minimums increased dramatically. Entirely new types of offenses have become subject to mandatory minimums, from child pornography to identity theft. During that period, thepercentage of offenders convicted of violating a statute carrying a mandatory minimum of 10 years increased from 34.4 percent to 40.7 percent” (Bernick). This increase in incarceration also exacerbated the tension between the two parties, with proponents of S.B. 2123 arguing that mandatory minimums have only created an environment of mass incarceration rather than directly addressing crime as a national issue and attempting to solve it.
Marshall 9As this debate has become more of a controversial social problem, more legislation has been drafted in order to address the debate surrounding mandatory minimum laws. Other than S.B. 2123, two major pieces of legislation have been introduced. The first is HR 2944, also known as the SAFE justice act. According to FAMM’s website, this bill was introduced on June 25thof last year and was sponsored by Representative James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin (“Why Should I Care?”). According to govtrack, a website dedicated to tracking bills as they make their way through congress, the SAFE justice act would “improve public safety, accountability, transparency, and respect for federalism in Federal criminal law by applying the findings of the bipartisan Over-Criminalization Task Force and evidence-based reforms already made by some States, and reinvesting the resulting savings from doing so in additional evidence-based criminal justice strategies that are proven to reduce recidivism and crime, and the burden of the criminal justice system on the taxpayer” (govtrack.us H.R. 2994). Despite being introduced, this bill has yet to be passed by congress. The second piece of legislation introduced (known as H.R. 3713) isintended to serve as a companion piece to S.B. 2123. According to congress.gov, if enacted HR 3713 would accomplish the following “[H.R. 3713] permits a court to reduce the mandatory