KEY FEATURES • A brief introduction to the U.S. judicial system and to the public policy dimension of judicial decisions provides context for the material. • Criminal and regulatory laws are presented with contrasting views on various contemporary public policy issues, including assault weapons, hate crimes, stand your ground laws, police use of deadly force, and much more. • A question for debate and learning objectives appear at the beginning of each chapter. The debate format features contemporary topical issues that engage students and ask them to consider various points of view. • Brief essays introduce students to each debate and put the issue into context to help students understand how policy issues arise in criminal justice and law. • Summaries of the positions follow the debate sections to ensure students have a clear understanding of the contrasting arguments. • “You Decide” exercises and discussion questions appear at the end of each debate to give students the opportunity to apply what they read to new and novel situations.

Sentencing: Mandatory Minimum Sentences

3.5 sentencing: Mandatory minimum sentences

Should Mandatory Minimum Sentences Be Abolished?

Learning Objectives

  • Know the definition of mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Understand the development of mandatory minimum sentences.
  • State the positive aspects of mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Know the main criticisms of mandatory minimum sentences.

Support Mandatory Minimum Sentences

United States Sentencing Commission, Report to the Congress: Mandatory Minimum Penalties in the Federal Criminal Justice System (October 2011)

Oppose Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, United States v. Hungerford, 465 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2006)


Mandatory minimum sentences refers to statutory provisions requiring a judge to punish an offense with a specified minimum sentence. Some mandatory sentences are triggered by the circumstances of an offense, such as an amount and type of drugs or the location where the drugs were sold (e.g., within ...

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