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A look at Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Historical and Current Perspectives
What if I were to tell you that there is a tragedy in its first stages of repetition happening right now in Canada, a tragedy that has ripped apart millions of American families for a lifetime, giving them no chance to heal; this tragedy is mandatory minimum sentencing. It locks people away for decades with no thought to personal circumstance or situation. It removes the power of our trained legal professionals and leaves it in the hands of vote-hungry politicians, eager for their next moment on top. In this presentation, we will examine the implications of mandatory minimum sentencing. From a look into the history of the catastrophic failures of the United States Sentencing Reform to the period in our own Canadian legal history where we got it right, we will see how warning signs that were so clear were ignored to satisfy a misinformed public. We will then arrive to our current period where thirty years of thoughtful work is undone by the stroke of a pen. We’ll look at sentencing through the eyes of the politicians, the judges and even the people with a hope that, one day, we may still have a salvageable and humane legal system to go back to. The paper I will be presenting is divided into eight sections. Section one explores the creation and utilization of mandatory minimum sentences within the United States. Section two discusses the implications these sentencing policies had on the United States penal and criminal justice systems. Section three discusses the attempts by the American judiciary to circumvent these policies. Section four discusses historical sentencing practices within Canada. Section five discusses the attitudes and beliefs of the citizens of each of these countries on the topic of sentencing within the criminal justice system. Section six explores the recent changes in Canadian sentencing law, specifically looking at policy created by the legislative branch. Section seven explores the attempts by the Canadian judiciary to strike down these new changes in sentencing policy. Finally, section eight concludes the essay with some thoughts on what was presented.
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Social and Behavioral Sciences