The End of Mandatory Jail Time?

by Mohamed Mohamedali

My action plan is to advocate for the institution of mandatory treatment, rather than jail time, prescribed by mandatory sentencing policy, for minor and nonviolent drug offenders. One political activity that has been in the news headlines in recent times in relation to this topic is the changing attitudes toward drug offenses. In 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder wanted to reduce sentences in most drug cases arguing that it was not fair and justified to sentence someone for 25 years for selling a small amount of drugs. The AG sought to reset the sentencing policies for federal judges and reduce sentencing for such crimes by an average of nearly a year (Zuckerman, 2014).

This indicated the changing wind of times and in a recent article by Alan Greenblatt on the wave of new district attorneys who are redefining justice, the author notes that new attorneys, a case in example being Kim Ogg, Harris County new attorney who wants her office along with law enforcement as a whole to pay less attention to minor drug offenses and in fact, she announced in February 2017 that she would no longer seek jail time in most cases for the crime of possessing up to four ounces of marijuana, but instead, the offenders would be diverted toward treatment instead (Greenblatt, 2017). Her sentiments are supported by Dwight Boykins, a member of the Houston City Council who notes that is that two-thirds of the people in jail are minorities and nonviolent based on minor drug offenses and this is not proof of an effective criminal justice system.

 

References

Greenblatt, A. (2017, April). Law and the New Order: A Fresh Wave of District Attorneys Is Redefining Justice. Retrieved from Governing:http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-district-attorneys-houston-criminal-justice-reform.html

 

Zuckerman, M. B. (2014, May 9). Get a little less tough on crime. Retrieved from U.S. News: https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/05/09/its-time-for-prison-reform-and-an-end-to-mandatory-minimum-sentences

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2 thoughts on “The End of Mandatory Jail Time?

  1. I agree that someone should not be sentenced to spending 25 years in jail if they are only dealing a small amount of drugs. It is a crime to sell drugs, however, it is also the addicts fault for buying these drugs and harming themselves by doing so. This relates back to the question always that is it the dealer or the addicts fault? If it can be proven that a drug dealer has dealt drugs that caused people to die and overdose then I think their sentence should be longer. 25 years is a very long time and I don’t think prisons main concern should be about someone dealing a small amount of drugs or even want to keep taking care of them in jail for that long… Even though it is a crime and terrible, there should be a different way to remrimand these criminals and they should be given a shorter sentence.

  2. I also agree that there is a problem in the way individuals are sentence for minor offenses. I think the justice system needs to be reformed so there is unity throughout the sentencing phase by judges. Currently, there is a campaign to get those who are addicted to seek help, but not many people do so. I think education is important along with treatment. It would help them to become a contributing member of society, rather than coming out of prison and having nothing. I think it would help decrease the number of individuals in prison and save money possibly.

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