Pros and Cons of Mandatory Sentencing


Justice systems strive to seek a fair system of administration so that everyone faces the same kind of sentence for the same kind of crime. Mandatory sentencing is a modern evolution of this justice by requiring judges to issue a specific sentence if someone is found guilty of a crime. Here are some key pros and cons to consider about this practice.

The Pros of Mandatory Sentencing

1. There is no uncertainty in how justice is delivered.
Families know that if someone is found guilty of certain crimes that a specific sentence will be imposed. This allows for less uncertainty in the justice system, even when a guilty verdict comes back.

2. It improves the chances of a plea bargain.
With there are strict mandatory sentences in place, it creates an opportunity for prosecutors to look for plea bargaining opportunities. This saves taxpayers money and prosecutors time so that the most resources can be dedicated to the key cases in every community.

3. It makes it possible to keep those who are unsafe away from communities.
Committing a crime is ultimately an unsafe decision. Mandatory sentences make sure those who are being unsafe are segregated from society for often longer periods of time. This allows people to raise families with confidence in their security.

The Cons of Mandatory Sentencing

1. It takes away decision-making powers from a judge.
Sometimes people can get caught up in a crime because of extenuating circumstances. Instead of allowing a judge to have discretion, the mandatory sentencing requires a specific outcome that may not be warranted.

2. It creates higher community costs.
The costs of imprisonment are quite high. Most mandatory sentences are extended in length than other crimes, which means taxpayers wind up paying more to keep people behind bars longer.

3. It may not be very effective.
Mandatory sentencing may keep unsavory elements away from communities for extended periods of time, but that doesn’t mean it is an effective system of justice. The focus isn’t on rehabilitation. It is on the amount of time that gets served.

The pros and cons of mandatory sentencing show that each community must weigh the gains this practice can achieve against its risks. It may make sense for certain types of crime, but may not be right for all crime. That’s why evaluating these key points is so important.