I believe that there are circumstances that would warrant jail time, but mandatory minimums are not right. For example, a high school senior or a college freshman arrested with a couple of grams of Marijuana in a school zone will face two years in prison for selling $10.00 worth to his friend. This makes no sense and cost the us tax payers more money than just the $100,000 to keep him in prison.
Along with that mandatory two year sentence he will also be labelled a felon. He will not receive any help while in prison and will not be allowed to participate in any work release programs or be able to be released early for good behavior. He will come out of prison with no skills and be a felon. This will limit his ability to find work and make him more likely to resort to crime to survive.
Had he not been subjected to a mandatory sentence and labelled a felon he would probably have grown up and become a productive citizen in society. So, do criminals convicted of non-violent crimes need to face jail time? I say no. At least not because it is mandatory. All cases are different and there is no right or wrong answer here. However, I do not believe in mandatory minimums for the reasons I just stated.
Anyone who does should do some research. Violent criminals many times are serving short sentences than non-violent criminals.The amount of money that American taxpayers spend on prisons has never been greater, prison capacity has tripled over the years. Yet the expected punishment of violent criminals has declined while violent crime continues to rise at incredible high levels.
The war on drugs has helped to create a paradox of more prisons and less punishment for violent criminals. More violent criminals on the streets means less public safety. The drug war has taken away the ability of a judge to protect the public by handing out sentences that fit the crime. As prisons are filled beyond capacity with nonviolent drug criminals, many of them first offenders, violent repeat offenders are pushed out of prison early, and sometimes never incarcerated at all.
The question should be “Should criminals convicted of violent crimes be set free with no jail time while non-violent drug criminals are given mandatory sentences with no chance for parole”.