When facing the possibility of jail time for a crime, you may run into the term “mandatory minimum.” In these cases, a judge must impose the minimum penalty.
Understanding what mandatory minimums are and why they exist can help a person face them.
What are mandatory minimums?
When handing down sentences, the court often has a lot of wiggle room when it comes to deciding penalties. However, mandatory minimums essentially tie a court’s hands by forcing them to sentence an individual to the minimum penalty at the very least.
Mandatory minimums hold ongoing popularity due to the common belief that having longer sentences will work as better deterrents. Unfortunately, this is not often the case, and it can just lead to an individual suffering with unnecessary time on their clock.
Why do people want mandatory minimums repealed?
The Center for Court Innovation discusses the racial disparities that exist and get exacerbated due to mandatory minimums. This exists as one of the driving factors in repealing mandatory minimum sentences: the fact that they disproportionately impact people of color.
As mentioned, they also do not typically lower the rate of recidivism, meaning people are just as likely to engage in crime again. This is particularly true for those struggling with addictions, who commit related crimes like DUIs.
Despite the corrosion and strain that mandatory minimums place on the systems of justice, they do still exist to this day. Until they end up repealed once and for all, anyone facing conviction should know what they are and what they may result in.