Correcting Course: Lessons from the 1970 Repeal of Mandatory Minimums
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Jul 15, 2013

“In the 1980s, Congress responded to the media frenzy around the crack cocaine epidemic by enacting two antidrug crime bills containing new mandatory minimum sentences. Twenty years later, the results are in: the new penalties have failed. These mandatory sentences are no more effective than the similar sanctions adopted in the 1950s. The question now is simple: Will members of Congress follow the example set by their predecessors in 1970 and eliminate mandatory minimums, or will they continue to stand by a costly failed experiment? To better educate members of Congress and the American public about the choice at hand, this report presents the history of the Boggs Act and its repeal. It then examines the record of the mandatory minimums that were enacted in the mid-1980s and finds that they have failed for the same reasons as the mandatory sentences in the Boggs Act. The report concludes that the current Congress should follow the example of the 91st Congress in 1970, correct course, and vote once again to reform mandatory minimum sentence.”

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