Tough on Crime or Tough Luck for the Incarcerated? Exploring the Adverse Psychological Impacts of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing and Pushing for Action
Law & Psychology Review, Vol. 39, p. 253 (2015)
14 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2015
Date Written: May 2015
There is little doubt that the criminal justice system in the United States is in need of substantive reform and repair. Yet, our nation's prison population dwarfs countries worldwide as it continues to become even more overcrowded with individuals subject to draconian mandatory minimum sentences. But this comes at what negative psychological costs to these incarcerated individuals, their families, and their communities? This article analyzes the history and philosophy of mandatory minimum sentencing and the adverse psychological impacts that these sentences have on these individuals as they deal with the struggles of incarceration and the mounting structural barriers facing them upon reentry into society. This article also examines the recent reforms enacted by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Sentencing Commission and offers recommendations for solving our nation’s incarceration problems and minimizing their psychological impacts.
Keywords: Psychology, Law, Crime, Prison, Sentencing, Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, Drugs, Statute
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