Mandatory Sentencing

May 26, 1995 • Volume 5, Issue 20
Do tough sentencing laws reduce crime?
By Margaret Edwards


Responding to public concern about crime, state and federal lawmakers in recent years have approved tough sentencing laws designed to “send a clear message” to criminals. Despite such stringent sentencing reforms as mandatory minimums, abolition of parole and “three strikes and you're out” for repeat offenders, crime and drug use continue at high levels. Advocates of tougher penalties say they ensure that violent crimes are punished consistently and firmly, and that over time criminals will learn crime does not pay. Critics argue that the laws are unfair, do not deter crime and waste scarce prison space by putting the wrong kinds of offenders behind bars. As the Republican-controlled Congress seeks to revise the $30 billion 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill, sentencing remains a contentious issue.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Criminal Sentencing
Mar. 18, 2022  Wrongful Convictions
Nov. 05, 2004  Sentencing Debates
May 10, 2002  Three-Strikes Laws
Feb. 12, 1999  Plea Bargaining
May 26, 1995  Mandatory Sentencing
Jul. 22, 1994  Crime Victims’ Rights
Jun. 14, 1974  Plea Bargaining
Feb. 13, 1937  Probation, Reformation, and Parole
Crime and Law Enforcement
Drug Abuse
Sentencing and Corrections