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jca's avatar

How do you feel about mandatory sentencing laws?

Asked by jca (28485 points ) February 10th, 2010

where i live, there are new mandatory sentencing laws. one is if you are caught driving under the influence, they can take your car away. if you are caught driving under the influence with children in the car, it’s a mandatory four year jail term.

on one hand, mandatory sentencing prohibits certain people from getting a light sentence because of their status, position, or who they’re friends with. on the other hand, there is no use having judges if their hands are tied regarding the sentence they can impose.

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13 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I don’t like mandatory sentencing, because it shackles the hands of the judge who is hearing the case, who see all the circumstances.

Snarp's avatar

In general I’m opposed to them for the simple reason that we have judges for a reason, as you mention, and that mandatory sentences are often excessively harsh and leave no room to deal with extenuating circumstances. The specific mandatory sentences you mention, however, make me want to rethink my position.

Snarp's avatar

Ah, I’ve come up with a way to rationalize at least the first of your examples with a general opposition to mandatory sentencing laws. Driving a car is not a right, it is a privilege for which you must be tested for safety and licensed. I don’t think they should take your car away, but I do think it is reasonable to automatically revoke your license and registration for driving under the influence. This is not a sentence, it would be a condition to which your license and registration are subject.

kevbo's avatar

It is “lead generation” for the private prison industry.

MrsNash's avatar

In the “real” world, I am opposed to mandatory sentencing. In my not-so-real world, I’d like to run for political office with the following slogan:

“If you are not a jack-ass, you can drive an automobile. If you are a jack-ass you must use public transportation OR stop being a jack-ass.”

Cruiser's avatar

IMO they are problematic at best. The bright side is Pres. Obama has signed a bill that the U.S. Sentencing Commission is given one year to prepare a comprehensive report on federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Maybe his Harvard Law degree will come in handy here.

davidbetterman's avatar

We need more, stronger mandatory sentencing laws, so that bleeding heart judges are compelled to sentence perps for the most possible time they deserve.

Shae's avatar

Mandatory sentences weaken a society. There are different circumstances for every situation, and prison is not usually they best solution.

The fact that this mandatory crap has moved into schools now, with no tolerance rules pisses me off to no end.

MrsNash's avatar

Sometimes they paint with too broad a brush. The discrepancy between sentencing for cocaine possession and crack possession leads me to believe that groups of people (not just drug users) are being unfairly targeted.

galileogirl's avatar

OMG, I’m about to agree with @Snarp In the instances given in the question there should be mandatory punishment. There is no accidental DUI. If asked I may come up with other consequences ie a DUI would bring a 5 year license.suspension. With children in the car add child endangerment. Driving during the suspension=permanent suspension. Certain crimes that might not merit jail time, ie shoplifting and vandalism would require the offender to pay for publishing his/her actions in their neighborhood, school and/or workplace.

A judge is not there to pop out punishments, s/he must maintain fairness in the trial

CMaz's avatar

It works, in some cases.
But, if you get too many that pile up. You will never get out of jail or the pickle you are in.

Thank goodness for concurrence.

Factotum's avatar

They are an encroachment by the legislative branch onto territory that is properly the demesne of the judicial.

Factotum's avatar

If we are to remove most of a judge’s ability to make, well, judgments and turn them into mere referees, then we should issue them striped uniforms and stop paying them so much.

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