The Good, The Bad, It’s Purpose on Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Aaron MacKinnon 1060928
Since it's existence, has taken place a controversial disagreement about the effectiveness of mandatory minimum sentencing (MMS) in its ability to reduce recidivism and regulate deterrence of criminal acts that carry mandatory minimum sentences (MMSs). To understand the effectiveness of MMS in the system of rehabilitation one must understand its purpose in the justice system and weigh the pros against the cons.
“In 1995, an amendment to the Criminal Code regarding sentencing was enacted. The new legislation codified the purpose and principles of sentencing. Section 718, of the Criminal Code of Canada states:
718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:
(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;
(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;
(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;
(d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders;
(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or the community; and
(f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and to the community. (1995, c. 22, s.6),”” as stated in Roberts, Morek & Cole, 2005, pg. 9).
MMSs play an element to each of these factors and attempt to better the system of sentencing by limiting sentencing disparity and deterring future criminal acts to a greater extent than normal sentencing provisions. According to various sources, "the principle rationale for mandatory minimums is the belief that length of time in prison acts as a deterrent to future recidivism," (Collin, Gendreau & Goggin, 1999, p.3). Now that a purpose for MMS has been established, the pros and cons of this element of sentencing can be determined.
"Supporters of mandatory minimum sentences emphasize the need to ensure that ‘crime does not pay’ and view lengthy prison terms as an effective way of increasing cost of offending. They argue that these sentences
• act as a deterrent;
• prevent future crimes by incapacitating the offender by removing them from society;
• reduce sentence disparity by giving clear guidelines to judges so that all offenders across Canada will receive similar, minimum amounts of time when convicted of the same offence; respond to the public concern that offenders are held accountable for their criminal convictions through imprisonment,” (Goff, 2017, pg. 323-324).
According to Newman, Sather & Woolgar’s argument is that MMS promotes equal and fair judgement against similar crimes with no regard to sociological factors such as race, gender. “It is a concern that crackdowns on crime often seem to have harsher consequences on black, Hispanic and Asian individuals than on white members of the community. But mandatory sentencing is...