Mass incarceration – Let there be Justice?


No one will doubt the fact that the United States justice system is flawed, the degree of how much the system is flawed, is where we usually differ among ourselves. Like most intuitions and systems, the American criminal justice system has undergone quite a revolution. From the use of religion to creating an independent system based on rules of morality, the American system of justice has come a really long way. The idea however is for the evolution to continue because there is still plenty of room within the system to change for the better.
One of the biggest failures of the American justice system lies within mass incarceration of its populace. Mass incarceration means imprisonment of the millions and millions of people all over the world. Interestingly enough while the United States makes up a mere 5% of the world population; however still, it is responsible for nearly a staggering 22% of the world’s prison population. The problems of mass incarceration need to be understood in its entirety, before any change is expected to be made. There let us try and explore the failures of the justice system in this regard, before we can talk about how the system must be overhauled to pave way for a reduction in mass incarceration and make a move towards a justice system that allows a room for flexibility.
The mandatory minimum
More than 2 million people are incarcerated in U.S. prisons and a large percentage of those incarcerated are guilty of committing potentially heinous crimes but in a very trivial capacity. They are given sentences in the same manner under the mandatory minimum sentencing laws. This means no matter what the actual story was, the law is upheld and the punishment remains above all. Let’s take a look at the case of drug trafficking: in this case mandatory sentences are triggered whenever a crime involves a kilogram or more of heroin and 5 kilogram or more of cocaine etc. which implies that a 1st offense including manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute with no deaths caused or no serious bodily injury leads to 10 years of imprisonment, a 2nd offense where there is manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute, and death or serious bodily injury results in 20 years of imprisonment and in the 3rd offense, manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute leads to life imprisonment.
While most mandatory minimum sentences apply to drug offenses, however they are now enacted for other crimes as well which include certain gun, pornography, and economic offenses. This means that the number of incarcerations automatically increases under this system.
You can read more of this article in our March 2017 Adult issue of ModelsMania