CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bush Adminstration Pushes for Mandatory Federal Prison Terms

From The Bush administration is trying to roll back a Supreme Court decision by pushing legislation that would require prison time for nearly all criminals.

The Justice Department is offering the plan as an opening salvo in a larger debate about whether sentences for crack cocaine are unfairly harsh and racially discriminatory.

Judges, however, were livid over the proposal to limit their power.

"This would require one-size-fits-all justice," said U.S. District Judge Paul G. Cassell, chairman of the Criminal Law committee of the Judicial Conference, the judicial branch's policy-making body.

"The vast majority of the public would like the judges to make the individualized decisions needed to make these very difficult sentencing decisions," Cassell said. "Judges are the ones who look the defendants in the eyes. They hear from the victims. They hear from the prosecutors."

The debate, pitting prosecutors against jurists, has been ongoing since a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that declared the government's two decades-old sentencing guidelines unconstitutional. The ruling in United States v. Booker said judges are not required to abide by the federal guidelines -- which set mandatory minimum and maximums on sentences -- but could consider them in meting out prison time.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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Would any of this have to do with the privatization of penal systems? As a taxpayer, I'm concerned that increasing the prison population would do more harm than help. We are already overextending our resources. Plus, according to the 1991 Opposing View Points Series on American Jail Systems, we are leading in the free world with inmate populations. Yet, there is proof that this method of rehabilitation or punishment (depending on your view of the purpose of the penal system) is ineffective. We can't just let them run wild on the streets, but how sensible is it to incarcerate everyone. One size fits all does not apply to the crime (ask any victim) and one size fits all should not apply to the criminal. There should be other ways to reprimand criminals that are not facing the top violent crimes (robbery, rape, murder and assault) without digging into the pockets of the taxpayer.

Thanks for the information.

Latrivia Nelson

Posted by: Latrivia Nelson | Jun 20, 2007 6:50:58 PM

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