- Polling Issues
Mandatory minimum sentencing

In an attempt to win the War on Drugs, we enacted mandatory minimum sentencing laws in 1986. These laws, intended to reduce or eliminate illegal drug supplies, were enforced against first-time offenders. All 50 states and DC also have mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Original mandatory minimum sentencing laws, later revised in 2005, required a mandatory minimum 10-year term of imprisonment and a maximum life term of imprisonment for trafficking offenses involving 5 kilograms of powdered cocaine or 50 grams of cocaine base (crack). The average sentence of these first-time nonviolent drug offenders is often longer than the average sentence for rape, child molestation, bank robbery or manslaughter. These laws have filled our prisons but the War on Drugs is no closer to being won now than it was when it began in 1971.

Before this law was passed, about 50,000 Americans were serving time for drug offenses. Today, there are nearly 400,000 drug offenders locked up. Our prison budget has increased more than 1,000% during this time to accommodate mandatory minimum sentences. Opponents of mandatory sentencing laws say prosecutors, by deciding how to charge and prosecute offenders, are now making sentencing decisions instead of judges. Critics claim mandatory sentencing laws have failed to decrease our nation's illegal drug supplies and that these inmates should not be serving such long terms for nonviolent crimes.

Proposed Legislation: Reintroduction of H.R.7194 - Mandatory Minimum Reform Act of 2020
Prospective Sponsor: Rep. Maxine Waters (CA)

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Poll Opening Date
March 13, 2023
Poll Closing Date
March 19, 2023

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