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Mandatory Sentencing

  • By: Robert Kenneth Sammons
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Mandatory minimum sentencing has been a part of the American judicial system since the early days of the nation; however, its modern application began in the 1980s. Mandatory minimum sentencing is defined by the U.S. Sentencing Commission as “statutory provisions requiring the imposition of at least a specified minimum sentence when criteria specified in the relevant statute have been met.” Simply stated, it is an elimination of judicial discretion, specifically enumerated in any number of federal criminal statutes, with regard to the sentencing of individuals found guilty in a federal court. In order to attain a broad understanding of this concept, it is first necessary to review its history and to recognize the contextual issues that fostered its large-scale implementation.

As noted above, mandatory minimum ...

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