What more is there to be said about mandatory minimums? Everyone already knows they are bad sentencing policy. Pursuant to congressional directive, however, the U.S. Sentencing Commission last week issued a comprehensive new report on federal mandatory minimums. I doubt it’s a game-changer, but the report does include a wealth of interesting new data.
First, though, there are the Commission’s recommendations. Here are the (eminently sound) overarching recommendations:
A strong and effective sentencing guidelines system best serves the purposes of the Sentencing Reform Act. . . . If Congress decides to exercise its power to direct sentencing policy by enacting mandatory minimum penalties, the Commission believes that such penalties should (1) not be excessively severe, (2) be narrowly tailored to apply only to those offenders who warrant such punishment, and (3) be applied consistently. Sentencing data and interviews with prosecutors and defense attorneys indicate that mandatory minimum penalties that are considered excessively severe tend to be applied inconsistently. (xxx)