Mandatory Minimum Policy Reform and the Sentencing of Crack Cocaine Defendants: An Analysis of the Fair Sentencing Act

27 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2017

See all articles by David Bjerk

David Bjerk

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (FSA) affected the U.S. federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws for crack cocaine offenders, and represented the first congressional reform of sentencing laws in over 20 years. A primary goal of this legislation was to lessen the harshness of sentences for crack cocaine offenders and decrease the sentencing gap between crack defendants and powder cocaine defendants. While the mean sentence length for crack offenders fell following the implementation of the FSA, these changes appear to primarily reflect the continuation of ongoing sentencing trends that were initiated by a variety of noncongressional reforms to federal sentencing policy that commenced around 2007. However, the FSA appears to have been helpful in allowing these trends to continue past 2010.

Suggested Citation

Bjerk, David, Mandatory Minimum Policy Reform and the Sentencing of Crack Cocaine Defendants: An Analysis of the Fair Sentencing Act (June 2017). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 14, Issue 2, pp. 370-396, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2959107 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jels.12150

David Bjerk (Contact Author)

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )

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Claremont, CA 91711-6420
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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