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.