From the Frying Pan into the Fire: How Poor Women of Color and Children are Affected By the Sentencing Guidelines & Mandatory Minimums
University of St. Thomas School of Law
U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-13
Santa Clara Law Review, Fall 2006
Mandatory minimums and the sentencing guidelines were established in the mid-1980s as a central element of the "war on drugs," and as visible reinforcement of Congress' rhetoric of getting "tough on crime," by providing excessively lengthy prison terms for convicted drug offenders. While seeking to "get tough on crime," Congress has virtually ignored the grossly disparate impact of the sentencing statutes on arguably the most vulnerable members of society - poor women of color and children. As poor African-American women account for the fastest growing segment of those sentenced to lengthy prison terms for peripheral involvement in drug-trafficking, their children are left parentless and without adequate systemic safeguards when their mothers are sent to prison. When mothers are incarcerated, their children are left to navigate complex and intolerant systems such as state foster care systems, public educational systems, and juvenile justice systems - with little guidance or support.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 62
Keywords: Mandatory minimum sentences, sentencing guidelines, race and criminal justice, gender and criminal justice, class and criminal justice, war on drugs, prison and families, discrimination
Date posted: April 6, 2006