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October 8, 2012

Essay on Changes to Sentencing Guidelines

12:36 PM



All over the United States as well as at the Federal level, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are the key documents in taking guidelines and instructions by the United States federal courts. According to the Controlled Substances Act, prosecutors have key authority to influence on a sentence of defendant and thus develop the incentive to admit a plea accord. In particular, the defendants who have prior drug offenses are subject to strict mandatory minimums, but the prosecutor can use his judgment to not document previous crime information. If this information does not document then mandatory minimum will not be applicable. Following are the useful information about the mandatory minimum “Mandatory minimum sentencing laws require harsh, automatic prison terms for those convicted of certain crimes, most often drug offenses. Congress enacted mandatory minimums in 1986 and toughened them in 1988 to apply to drug conspiracies and certain gun offenses. The sentence is determined solely by the weight and type of drug or the presence of a firearm during a felony offense. Congress enacted mandatory minimum sentencing laws to catch drug “kingpins” and deter drug sales and use. But the laws undermine the American tradition of justice by preventing judges from fitting the punishment to the individual’s role in the offense. Because of mandatory sentencing laws, the population of federal prisons has soared and they are filled with low-level, nonviolent drug law violators – not the “kingpins” mandatory sentences intended to apprehend.” (Simons, 2002)
Discussion
The domain of Sentencing Guidelines is diversified that has several aspect but here to be precise, the specific and key issue(s) regarding the Sentencing Guidelines are being discussed, however, for having the better understanding, official  website of United States Sentencing Commission and Federal Criminal Lawyer Blog are the good source. ("United states sentencing," ) & (Lietz, 2010)
However, as far as the mandatory sentence is concerned, it is the legal decision system in which judicial prudence is limited according to the law. Usually, people offended of the crimes that must be penalized with the minimum number of years in the jail. These Mandatory sentencing laws differ from place to place; it is the key interest area in the jurisdictions of Common Law, since jurisdictions of Civil Law normally set down the limit of sentences for the crime in the laws.
Generally United States federal juries are not authorized to be informed about the mandatory minimum punishments that could be apply if the defendant is offended, because the role of jury role is restricted to a guilt determination. Yet, from time to time defense attorneys have discovered the dimension to convey this information to the legal juries; for example, it is sometimes feasible on further examination of an informer who faces same issues, in asking about the time duration. This is occasionally thought acceptable because it is a way of eyewitness accusing. (Ruiz, 2009)
In the United States the Mandatory sentencing were applied when the Congress passed the 1952’s Boggs Act and 1956’s Narcotics Control Act. The is first law of its kind that made a cannabis possession crime at least of two to ten years with a mandatory fine up to 20,000 USD according to the severity of the crime but, in 1970, the United States Congress revoked these  penalties for cannabis crimes. In 1973, New York State launched the mandatory sentences of 15 years to life imprisonment for having hard drug weighting more than 4 oz (112 g).
Despite the arguments and controversies, It should be noticed that the core intension behind the developing, changing in the Sentencing Guidelines and implementing them is to curb the crime and ensure the peaceful environment in the society.
After having discussion about the Mandatory minimums and their related guidelines, to have some discussion about the three strikes law will be useful. Three strikes law that was introduced in 1994 at California that was the earliest mandatory sentencing law that attracted the extensive publicity. Analogous laws were afterward adopted in the number of US jurisdictions. According to the Three strikes law that required detention for a  25 years (minimum) after a defendant is done a third severe crime.
The imposing of longer prison sentences’ practices on recurrences offenders versus first-time offenders, who commit the similar crime, is nothing novel. E.g. in, New York State has a “Persistent Felony Offender” law that is very old and rooted to the 19th Century But such type of sentences were not obligatory in every case and judges had a variety of discretion that what of incarceration’s term should be imposed.
The first "three strikes" law was passed in 1993, when Washington state voters approved it. In 1994 California passed it when their voters passed Proposition 184 with the awesome majority of 72% and 28% in support and against respectively. The plan proposed to voters had Three Strikes’ title and you are out, indicating the de facto lifelong imprisonment after confirming in convicting the three offenses.
The “three strikes” law enacted by Texas in 1974, by Washington in 1993, by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada and North Dakota in 1994, by Arkansas, Georgia, Utah, Maryland, Montana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin in 1995 and by Florida, Tennessee and Virginia in 1996. (Franklin, Gordon & Sam, 2001) & (Hide, 2009)
In Arizona, Three Strike Law is also in practice and following are excerpt in the connection of this law “Using Arizona’s new “three strikes and you’re out” law, the County Attorney’s Office is seeking a life sentence for Robert Hill (DOB 11/19/70) for a Valley crime spree that went on for three days. Hill is the first defendant in Maricopa County and apparently the first in Arizona (no other such cases have been reported in the media) to face a possible life term under the new state law mandating that certain violent repeat offenders be incarcerated for life upon their conviction of a third violent offense.
In November 2004, Hill stole a car in Scottsdale, pointed a gun at a random driver on the 101 freeway, led police on a chase and tried to ram a police cruiser. Then, while hiding out in a vacant home that was for sale, he tried to rape a 65-year-old woman. He was captured a day later in Casa Grande. Hill is now awaiting trial on a 13-count criminal indictment. If convicted, Hill would be put away for life without the possibility of parole.
County Attorney Andrew Thomas described Hill as a “prime example of why Arizona’s new three-strike law was passed.” He was convicted in 1987 of attempted armed robbery and served five years in the Arizona Department of Corrections. In 1993, he was convicted of armed robbery and served ten more years in an Arizona prison. He got out in 2003, and a year later went on his latest alleged crime spree.” ("Arizona finally about," 2007)
Mandatory sentencing’s Adherents consider that it decrease crime, is ideal for any type of criminals and guarantee the regularity in sentencing process. Probable and repeat offenders are probable to keep away from crime because they can be confident about their sentence if they caught. Adversary of mandatory sentencing argued that show criminals are discouraged more efficiently by growing the chances of conviction rather than mounting the sentences if they are found to be convicted.
Furthermore, these argue that judges lose their control on the sentencing and cannot use discretion given the specific facts about the case. Furthermore to justice the arguments, they think that treatment is comparatively more cost-effective than the lengthy sentences. They also cite as well a survey that indicate that the public prefers legal discretion to mandatory minimums.
However further objection is that these laws sometimes is the catalyst in misleading practices on the judges side. To avoid forcing the sentences that they think are too harsh, judges occasionally disregard the mandatory sentence law and use some other type of sentence, or set free defendants of crimes that bear obligatory penalties.
In the perspective of drug laws, the argument the over dissimilar mandatory minimum sentences for smuggler of powder cocaine and crack has increase since the period of 1980s. According to the 1986 federal law, one gram crack is equal to one 100 grams of cocaine powder. The U.S. Sentencing Guideline Commission implemented this fraction in its guidelines revision of that year. Conversely, in 1988 Congress adjusted the law to set up mandatory minimum sentences for cocaine trading.
Therefore, selling 5 grams crack cocaine is liable to be punished by a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years. To have the similar sentence for dealing in powder cocaine, a defendant would have to sell the quantity of 500 grams. This has outcome in longer imprison sentences for minor crack dealers than for wholesalers who deal in cocaine. The federal law and the related state laws have been defy as breach of equivalent protection, as African Americans have been punished with more crack cocaine crimes than whites. Likewise, white Americans have been punished with selling the cocaine powder more often than the African Americans. These legal opinions have met with no big success. By the mid of 1990s, the U.S. Sentencing Guideline Commission required to reduce the difference in sentencing. As of late 2000 period, yet, it had been fails in its efforts (BLUMSTEIN, COHEN, MARTIN & TONRY, 1983) & (BLUMSTEIN, COHEN and NAGIN, 1978).
Prospects & Conclusion
Besides, as far as the future of sentencing guidelines in concerned, despite the controversies, it has the future because these guidelines are inevitable both for the society and for the jurisdiction but proper vigilance with reviews are inevitable because of the human psycho that is generally is the type of quest that is still un-discover. Furthermore, as far as the Juvenile issue is concerned, it is the sensitive issue and in that connection, voice of people should be listen such in Arizona where the people are highly concerned about the sex offenders against the child. The Arizonians expressed regarding the sentencing guidelines that these are very lenient. In that connection Arizonians suggested the strict measures that are readily available on the Artifice, Inc’s website. ("A change to child predator laws in az," ).
Therefore, the linchpin issue is to properly and continuously review the sentencing guidelines either it’s belong to mandatory sentencing, mandatory death sentencing, child abuse or any other type of relevant issue.


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