As previous posts have touched on, the Texas legislature has recently considered altering its policies regarding criminal penalties not only to save money in the state, but also to re-allocate resources to more effectively address criminal behavior.
One such change includes reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing in the state. Texas is not the only governmental entity in the country considering such alterations to crime. President Obama, along with other lawmakers, also has supported such considerations. Mandatory minimum sentences obligate judges to implement certain consequences to particular crimes, no matter what the details of the incident might be.
The practice of mandatory minimum sentencing has resulted in an 800 percent increase in the prison population since 1980. In fact, almost one of every 100 Americans is in jail or prison. At the moment, most states focus on the punitive aspect of criminal behavior, rather than taking a rehabilitative approach. The state of Texas is now considering altering that point of view.
Another potential benefit to reducing mandatory minimum sentences is that it could permit more restitution to victims. Specifically, individuals convicted of a crime might spend more time reintegrating back into society and securing long-term employment in order to compensate victims for their losses, rather than residing in prison for an extended duration.
Keeping an open mind when it comes to approaching crime is an important aspect to social improvements. Criminal defense attorneys will certainly support the proposition of doing away with mandatory minimum sentences, which tend to place generalizations on criminal behavior without factoring in prior convictions or good behavior.
Source: Fox News, "Conservatives join push to roll back mandatory prison sentences," Sept. 29, 2013