Vera Study Looks At Mandatory Sentencing Reforms

Over the last decade, the majority of states have taken steps to reform or limit mandatory sentencing laws, signaling a shift in a decades-long approach to combatting crime, according to a report recently released by the Vera Institute of Justice. Starting in the 1970s, mandatory sentences were introduced to tackle crime, especially in drug-related offenses. In 1973, New York enacted a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to life for the possession of a hard drug. As other states adopted similar laws, courts were required to use fixed sentences for certain crimes instead of allowing cases to be evaluated on an individual basis. The report, however, shows that states have been changing those laws, especially in recent years.