The New York Times recently published an interesting piece about mandatory life sentences that are imposed on non-violent offenders. They highlight four prison inmates and tell the circumstances of their arrest and sentencing. In each of these cases, the judge imposing the sentence felt that life without parole was not ethically warranted, however due to mandatory sentencing regulations they could not alter the outcome of the case.
Life Without Parole - Four Inmates' Stories
Regardless of one's position on the issue of mandatory judicial sentencing, examining individual cases can serve as a check and balance to the implementation of any policy.
Bronx Community Solutions deals with misdemeanor convictions, not felonies, to provide a combination of punishment and help. So although we do not handle cases such as the four examples in this article, our success with providing sentencing options to judges would not have been possible if there were mandatory sentencing regulations imposed on our cases. We aim to provide judges with these increased sentencing options so that the underlying issues in a person's life which may be contributing to their criminal behavior can be addressed within the criminal justice system.
Another New York Times piece on mandatory sentencing can be found here:
For Lesser Crimes, Rethinking Life Behind Bars