The American judicial and justice system contains poor policies. Many people serve their sentence in the prison system without judicial cases. Others have undergone conviction due to petty crimes that require them to serve short periods. However, such individuals remain in prison for a longer period compared to their actual sentence. The American sentencing system remains to offer unfair sentence to inmates. Therefore, the criminal justice should undergo reform to create justice among the inmates. The statistics from the national survey states that the prison population has grown by over 800% compared to the country’s initial population that has only increased by 33% (Mortimer). According to overall statistics, the country’s population figure forms 5% of the world’s population with 25% acting as prisoners. The prison population growth rate has increased within a period of three decades since the year 1989 (Mortimer).
The increasing record comes from the explosion panic on drug addiction towards marijuana, heroin and alcohol that took place in the 1980s. The tripping point occurred when the country experienced a crack cocaine storm. The Congress introduced a compulsory sentencing to the abusers to five-year sentence. Since 1980s the huge composition of the prison population come from the drug abusers and addicts. The sentence contains unreasonable punishments to the inmates. Those who come out of prison end up in worse conditions compared to how they joined the prisons. The industries and the employment sectors fail to employ ex-convicts since they consider them dangerous. The Congress has done nothing for the past two decades to improve the status of ex-convicts in the society. They remain to handle their fate without help from the government.
The states justice department should reduce sentences on drug abuse. Serving more than 25 years for making sales on pain pills to a colleague turns out to be unrealistic. The justice department should reduce the years and change the sentencing policies that give the federal justice powers to pass such sentences. Other sentences that the state should change include the ones charged on fraud artists, tax evaders, and thieves. However, the individuals should be subjected to severe penalties in case they retrogress. The only individuals that should undergo serious charges and penalties should be the violent and dangerous drug traffickers. Such individuals cause chaos and may affect the rights to life of the citizens in the country. The federal reforms should inculcate a program that enables the ex-convicts to re-enter the society and gain full control of their lives.
The state spends more than $59 billion a year on prison services (Mortimer). Good reforms shield the states against having huge expenditures on the inmates. The states should reject the aspect of building new prisons and focus on improving the current status of the available prisons through reform programs. The federal programs should ensure that they focus on training the prisoners on how to improve their livelihood in case they come out of the prisons. Most of the prisons should ensure that they introduce a probation system that prevents most people from going to prison. Probation enables a convict to undergo a positive change in behavior. It also enables the state to save more than a quarter of its prison budget and channel the money to other state projects. The states should also train their prison wardens on how to handle the convicts while serving their sentences.
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There are an increasing number of senators that are working behind closed doors aiming to relax sentencing laws that are applicable to some of the country’s serious offenders. Moreover, the United States’ President, Barack Obama in June engaged in a week long issuance of commutations and making pro-reform speeches. These pro sentence reform movements have however been met with growing criticism. Following these developments, federal prosecutors have rallied their opposition towards sentencing reforms (Nelson, 2015). The last several decades have seen prison sentences take up a more significant role in the nation’s criminal justice system. Stringent policies on crime have led to the enactment of mandatory minimum laws and three strikes laws that put more emphasis on imprisonment for a wide variety of offenses. The sentence reform act is a highly controversial policy in the United States of America that aims to reduce a wide variety of federal mandatory minimum drug and gun sentences rendering the reductions retroactive; cause the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 to become retroactive; while intensifying the federal ‘safety valve’ exclusion for drug mandatory minimum sentences. Although the reforms are well intended, there are a wide range of issues plaguing these reforms, which should make citizens become apprehensive about the reforms and consequently say no to sentencing reforms.
One of the inherent issues with the sentencing reforms is based on its premise that demands the release of not just low level drug dealers but also thousands of hard core criminals. This premise is undeniably clear and cannot be concealed or denied. It is critical that the society appreciates the prepossessing fact that sentencing reform serve as the initial step towards the release of violent offenders on the streets. This has a consequent of increasing the level of violence: in essence, is this what American’s really need?
The act of reducing prison time for serious drug offenders and other violent criminals lacks any form of public support. Pro reformers have constantly avoided supporting any form of public poll on the issue. These groups understand that only an insignificant percentage of the society would support reduced sentencing for high level drug traffickers and violent criminals. Worse still, even the drug offenders who are already out in the streets would not support the early release of their counterparts as this would adversely affect their business in addition to posing a threat to their lives: Therefore, best not to ask.
The sky rocketing recidivism rate reported by various studies are a clear indication that shortening sentences will result into increased crime at a faster rate. There lacks a subtle way to state this fact, or an honest means of denying it. According to these statistics, 75% of released felons continue to engage in criminal activities. Therefore, by releasing the felons earlier, these individuals will return to crime earlier.
Mandatory minimum sentences are in addition considered necessary for tackling two significant issues facing the criminal justice system, which are: disparity in sentencing and unduly relaxed sentences. Mandatory minimum sentences are effective at ensuring that sentences are uniform within the entire federal system while at the same time guaranteeing that offenders are punished in accordance with their moral blameworthiness by connecting the punishment to the crime as opposed to the individual.
Sentencing reforms that are aimed at doing away with mandatory minimums and reducing prison sentences are ill advised and do not serve the good of the American society.
Although taking a comedic approach to talking about mandatory minimums, Oliver goes into important detail about fixed prison prison sentences and why our system treats some offenders better than most low- level offenders.
Hi guys! My name is Yamit Azrad and I am a Junior at the University of Maryland at the Universities at Shady Grove and I am in the Communication program. This field of study interests me mainly because of my passion for marketing and branding.
A thought that has always crossed my mind when learning about different imprisonment cases is “what happens now?”. Specifically, punishments that fit the crime, as well as the offender. My hopes are that our blog will increase public knowledge about sentence reform and how it can drastically help and improve our community.