In the United States, federal crimes can carry mandatory minimum sentences. Unfortunately, the punishment is not always commensurate with the crime.
Our criminal defense attorneys in St. Louis believe that mandatory minimum sentencing isn't the solution to crime in the United States. In fact, United States prisons are largely filled with people who, given the opportunity, could make a positive difference in their communities.
The History of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Mandatory minimum sentences were originally created to target "kingpins" - high-profile criminals with violent criminal records. On an individual level, these laws have the opposite effect; they trap low-level offenders without the leverage to bargain for a more lenient punishment.
Do Mandatory Minimum Sentences Reduce Crime?
According to FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums), these sentences do more harm than good. A recent study found that even harsh mandatory sentences do not lessen the likelihood of a given criminal offense.
Additionally, these minimums create a serious liability for prisons and jails across the nation. Research suggests that U.S. prisons cost taxpayers nearly $60 billion in 2012 alone, even though half of federal prisoners are incarcerated for nonviolent drug crimes.
According to Attorney Nicole Chiravollatti, "The vast majority of Americans behind bars are good human beings who are capable of making a positive impact on society if given the chance. Prison should be a last resort only for those that are a clear danger to society."
The Hammer Law Firm is Committed to Fighting Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
One thing is clear: the United States justice system needs sentencing reformation. Finding a solution isn't easy, but many organizations, such as Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) are moving in the right direction.
"We must invest in alternative programs so that we can help our fellow Americans who may have lost their way," said Chiravollatti.