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April 20, 2011

Terrific new research from FAMM about enactment of federal mandatory minimums

The folks at FAMM have put together a terrific (and brief) report on when mandatory minimums have been created or expanded by Congress since 1987.  The report is at this link, and this post at the FAMM blog SentencingSpeak reports on these highlights:

We looked at all the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws created between 1987 and 2010 and asked ourselves some simple questions:

When did Congress create this mandatory sentence?  When did Congress increase it?  When did Congress expand or rewrite the law so that more people were subjected to the mandatory sentence?

The answer is: election years, election years, election years.

The conclusions we drew from our data compilation:

(1) Congress is significantly more likely to create or expand a mandatory minimum sentence in an election year than in a non-election year.  Since 1987, there has been only one election year (2010) in which Congress did not create or expand any mandatory minimum sentences.

(2) Republican Congresses have created or expanded almost twice as many mandatory minimum sentences (131) as Democratic Congresses (68) since 1987.

(3) Including all presidents, more mandatory minimums have been created or expanded under Republican presidents (111) than Democratic ones (88) since 1987. However, President William J. Clinton presided over the creation or expansion of more mandatory minimums (87) than President George W. Bush (77).

(4) The creation and expansion of mandatory minimums corresponds to periods in which certain crimes received notable or extensive media attention and created fear or panic among Congress and the general public.  For example, mandatory minimum drug sentences were created in the late 1980s and almost solely justified by now-debunked fears surrounding abuse of crack cocaine.  Many mandatory minimums for child pornography and sex offenses were created in 2003 (when the abductions, rapes, and murders of several young female victims dominated headlines for months) and 2006 (the 25th anniversary of the abduction and death of Adam Walsh, who was the inspiration for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, a law that was vigorously lobbied for by the victim’s father and host of the TV show America’s Most Wanted and by victims’ rights groups nationwide).

April 20, 2011 at 09:37 AM | Permalink


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Its good info, indicates that the MM are purely political and what was popular at the time to draw votes.....I think most knew it had to be along these lines....How else could the guidelines get so far out of wack....Certainly not by fact finding and arriving at a reasonable conclusion....What a total waste of resource, the totality of it all..

Posted by: Josh | Apr 20, 2011 11:50:33 AM


I had to listen today to a radio program as a representative of LE dodged every meaningful question so that he would not lie directly.

His evasive attitudes worked extremely well as the host had no clue to what "consent" legally meant.
FB: this is for you!

Why are we so stupid?

Posted by: albeed | Apr 22, 2011 12:04:50 AM

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